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Tax Increment Financing
Quick Hit
Fri Jun 10, 2011

Number Of The Week: 17,467

That is the number of rental units in foreclosed properties in Chicago. In a report (PDF) issued Thursday by the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing, the 17,467 rental units came from 5,904 apartment buildings within Chicago -- which amounts to tens of thousands of Chicagoans who were left homeless in 2010.

The banks involved in the majority of the foreclosure filings are Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, Deutsche Bank, US Bank, and CitiMortgage.
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PI Original
Mon Mar 21, 2011

Teachers Demand TIF Accountability

Parents, teachers, and advocates marched through the streets of Chicago's poshest neighborhoods Saturday, pleading with the Daley administration to free up some of his beloved TIF funds for the city's schools.

Quick Hit
Sat Mar 19, 2011

CTU Protest Of TIFs Leads To Arrests

Jackson Potter, a Little Village High School of Social Justice teacher and member of the Chicago Teachers Union, and another woman identified as Amber Smock from ADAPT were both arrested after leading 150 to 200 people -- about half of them teachers -- to march and rush in to Lincoln Park's Grossinger City Cadillac dealership as part of a rally for tax increment financing (TIF) reform. The two were arrested for misdemeanor criminal trespassing and were taken to the Near North police district.

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Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Tue Mar 15, 2011

TIF Reform Comes To Springfield

Tax increment financing seems ready to have a moment on the Springfield stage. "I think there are lots of questions about the TIF issue, whether they're used as slush funds, whether there's appropriate accounting for the way the dollars are spent," House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago) told Progress Illinois. "This seems to be a good time to have a look." In addition to tax increment financing, Currie said legislators need to examine the impact of the more than 90 enterprise zones around Illinois.

A host of TIF bills have been introduced into the current General Assembly. One of the bills proposed would exempt Chicago Public Schools from the taxing bodies that lose property tax dollars because of the existence of TIF districts in the city. Another would send "surplus" TIF dollars back to the taxing bodies each year. 

Bob Palmer, policy director for Housing Action of Illinois, said his organization has been part of a group of stakeholders, which includes people with both favorable and skeptical positions on TIF districts and enterprise zones, that State Rep. John Bradley (D-Marion), chair of the House Revenue & Finance Committee, convened shortly after the current General Assembly session started. "So far in the process we have just been sharing information and thoughts on our respective positions on TIFs and Enterprise Zones," Palmer said. There have been two meetings so far. Palmer thought that negotiations about a TIF bill could last the entire General Assembly session, with legislation coming up possibly in May.

Palmer said Housing Action of Illinois is particularly interested in State Rep. Cynthia Soto's HB 1976, which would allow TIF dollars to go toward low-income housing, and HB 1575, offered by State Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez (D-Cicero). The latter bill would tighten the definition of blight in the state TIF statute, essentially place a cap on the total amount of a city's tax base that could be included in a TIF district, and allow taxing bodies to opt out of TIF zones.

Late last month, an investigation by ChicagoTalks.org found that between January 2000 and July 2010, the City of Chicago promised private companies, such as United Airlines, Quaker Oats, and others, about $600 million in TIF subsidies, nearly half of the total amount promised during that time period.

Bradley, whose committee is handling TIF bills in the House, could not be reached by the time this post went live. Progress Illinois will update the site if we hear back from him.

PI Original
by Aricka Flowers
Thu Mar 3, 2011

The Pawar Win: Against All Odds

In an upset that no one predicted, 30-year-old Ameya Pawar will be the new alderman of Chicago's 47th Ward. He beat the Schulter machine, built by an incumbent who has been in office years before Pawar was born.

Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Fri Jan 7, 2011

TIFs, Economic Development, And Job Losses

When Daley administration officials promote their decision to grant tax increment financing (TIF) dollars to large, profitable companies based in the city's Loop, there's usually a line about the jobs that the TIF grant will help "retain" downtown.

Thing is, the mayor's TIF-centric economic strategy hasn't proven all that effective on the jobs front, especially for a pretty important constituency: residents of the city of Chicago. That's according to "Loopholes," a new investigation by the Chicago Reporter's Angela Caputo (a Progress Illinois alumna). Her analysis finds that the city's Loop shed nearly 13,000 jobs "during the better part of the past decade." And 94 percent of those cuts were borne by city dwellers, with the vast majority of the job losses hitting South and Southwest Siders. Meanwhile, downtown's two biggest TIF districts (in the Loop proper and on the Near South Side) siphoned off $1.2 billion in property tax dollars in the name of economic development from other taxing bodies that are now facing their own budget crises.

"The whole point of TIF is to spur development in blighted neighborhoods. But the Reporter has found that many of the areas needing economic development money the most aren’t getting much; their sales tax revenue is shrinking, and the number of Loop jobs they hold are dwindling," Caputo writes. "At the same time, elected officials have failed to force businesses to set local hiring or wage standards, though many of these businesses are benefitting from millions of local tax incentives to move to the Loop."

The problems with how the Daley administration used tax increment financing are legion, and the Reporter's new piece adds yet another chapter to the story.

Quick Hit
by Micah Maidenberg
Fri Dec 17, 2010

CPS, The TIF Program, And The Mayoral Candidates

There wasn't much discussion of Chicago's tax increment financing (TIF) system during the city's last mayoral election. Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, Mayor Richard Daley's primary challenger four years ago, critictized Daley's TIF policy once, in early February 2007, according a review of Sun-Times and Tribune TIF-related stories between autumn 2006 and the following February. To be sure, there were other pieces about TIF districts in both of the city's major dailies during that time period, many of them concerning tax increment financing in the suburbs. But the issue didn't gain traction in the municipal campaign.

How the times have changed.

At last night's Chicago Teachers Union mayoral forum, the candidates were asked to account for the TIF program's impact on Chicago Public Schools. As the largest recipient of property taxes in Chicago, CPS has the most to lose when the city's TIF districts siphon off money from the local property tax base. At the CTU event, everyone endorsed more transparency over the TIF program. Chico said he fought to get TIF dollars for CPS while he headed the Board of Education. Moseley Braun decried diverting money from schools. Miguel del Valle and James Meeks were the strongest in saying TIF districts should not be opened in non-blighted neighborhoods.

Watch four of the mayoral contenders take their best-one minute shot on TIF reform and schools:

It's heartening that the city's political climate is such that the mayoral candidates must now account for the massive TIF program Daley has grown during this more than 21-year tenure. You can largely thank a few progressive aldermen and two of the city's best reporters for that.