School district says ‘no’ to Walmart

JESSICA RINALDI/REUTERS - (By Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters)

Why did a small school district in suburban Chicago just tell Walmart that it would not provide major tax breaks for the company to build a 300,000-square-foot store?

The school board of Summit Hill District 161 in Tinley Park,  25 miles southwest of Chicago, voted unanimously Wednesday night to reject the request by Walmart for about $5 million in tax incentives to build a $50 million store. That apparently quashes the deal.

The Chicago Tribune reported in this story that

 Board President Sean William Doyle told the audience he couldn’t “wrap (his) head” around supporting the proposed tax abatement.

 

Philosophically, it comes down to an issue of fairness,” Doyle said, noting that Wal-Mart has billions of dollars in income and yet was “demanding a school district give up $1.4 million dollars to help them develop a site, put up a store and make money.”

The deal actually called for Summit Hill School District 161 as well as another school district and a park district to give about $4.4 million in tax rebates as an incentive to build the store, the newspaper said.

Tinley Park, now with about 60,000 residents, was named a few years as “America’s Best Place to Raise Your Kids” by Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine because it has

great schools, a vibrant downtown, and housing options that range from modest to luxurious. Oak Park Avenue, which serves as a Main Street shopping area, includes a beautiful town square where residents gather and children ride bicycles. Tinley Park also has a 28,000-seat outdoor concert amphitheater, one of the largest in the Chicago area.

But it looks like it won’t have a new Walmart.

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · October 10, 2013