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TIFs
Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:52am
Thu Aug 28

Southwest Side Chicagoans Question TIF Use In 23rd Ward (UPDATED)

Residents of Chicago's 23rd Ward raised concerns about the city's tax increment financing (TIF) program after learning Wednesday evening that millions in economic development funds have yet to be spent in their community.

At the CivicLab's TIF town hall meeting at John F. Kennedy High School, Southwest Side community members learned that the six TIF districts located in the 23rd Ward had about $16.6 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the end of 2013. Last year alone, the ward's TIF districts collected nearly $2.3 million in property tax revenue, according to the CivicLab's analysis.

Business owner and Southwest Side resident Martin Arteaga, who is running for alderman in the 23rd Ward, attended the meeting.

"There needs to be a lot more clarity and transparency as to where this TIF money is going," he told Progress Illinois. "Here in the 23rd Ward, particularly in the Midway Airport area along Cicero Avenue, you have a bunch of empty lots. We could use some of that money to redevelop that area and actually be able to expand our tax base, because we have thousands of people who pass through going to Midway Airport. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:52am
Thu Aug 21

CivicLab To Emanuel: 'Come Clean' About $1.7 Billion In Unspent TIF Funds

Volunteers with Chicago's CivicLab want a full accounting of the more than $1.7 billion that was sitting in the city’s collective tax increment financing (TIF) district bank accounts at the end of 2013.

Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab and leader of its volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project, said the group plans to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the city within the week to "demand the mayor to come clean" about how those unspent funds will be used. Tresser said the group is prepared to take legal action if the city denies the FOIA request.

"We asked for (similar information) last year, and they told us to go take a leap," Tresser said at a TIF discussion Wednesday evening at the CivicLab, 114 N. Aberdeen St. "This time, we're going to sue if we don't get it." Read more »

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
9:32am
Mon Aug 18

Chicagoans Raise Concerns Over Proposed Washington Park TIF District

Chicago's Community Development Commission advanced a controversial plan to the city council last Tuesday that would create a new tax increment financing district in the economically struggling Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side, despite opposition from some local residents. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the issue.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:52pm
Wed Jul 9

WaterSaver Workers Picket For 'Fair' Contract, Protest Over Bathroom Break Policy (VIDEO)

About 25 union-represented employees at WaterSaver Faucet Co. picketed outside of the company's Chicago headquarters and main manufacturing facility before work Wednesday morning to call for a "fair contract." 

Teamsters Local 743 represents a total of 140 workers between WaterSaver's plant, 701 W. Erie St., and another facility operated by the laboratory faucet manufacturer's sister company, Guardian Equipment, located at 1140 N. North Branch St. in Chicago.

Unionized workers at WaterSaver have been working under an extension of their old labor contract, which expired last month. Contract negotiations between the union and the company have been underway for about a month and a half, said Nicholas Kreitman, Teamsters Local 743 senior union representative and staff attorney.  Read more »

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:09pm
Fri Jun 27

CivicLab's 'Democracy Design Studio' To Launch New Tools, Programs For Activists

Progress Illinois profiles the Chicago-based CivicLab, which turns one year old next month, and its latest efforts to aid local activists.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:58pm
Thu Jun 19

CivicLab: Chicago's 48th Ward Had $22 Million In TIF Funds Last Year

Far North Side Chicago residents were shocked to learn that the five active tax increment financing (TIF) districts located in the 48th Ward had $22.3 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the start of 2013, according to city data revealed by the CivicLab at a Wednesday night community meeting.

That money would have otherwise been dispersed among the local units of government that rely on property tax revenue, including the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, were it not for the city’s controversial TIF program, which is intended to spur economic development in “blighted” areas. Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:36pm
Fri Apr 11

Report: TIFs Play A Role In Chicago's Pension Crisis

With the media and public spotlight on Chicago's pension crisis, the non-partisan research center Good Jobs First is turning the attention to the city's controversial tax increment financing, or TIF, program.

In its recent "Putting Municipal Pension Costs Into Context: Chicago" report, the Washington, D.C.-based group asserts that the TIF program has played a part in the underfunding of pensions in the city.

"It's really hard to ignore the evidence that TIF has had some sort of impact on pensions," said Tommy Cafcas, research analyst at Good Jobs First, which works to promote corporate and government accountability.

"We know that TIF costs grew, and they started growing really quickly after 2000. We know that general fund revenues declined ... and we know that the city addressed its budget gap in part by making inadequate contributions to public pensions, so it seems reasonable that TIF plays a role in how the city thinks about addressing the pension issue." Read more »