Facing a $654 million budget deficit, Chicago budget director Eugene Munin said Friday
that the Daley administration would "have a discussion" about
redirecting some tax increment financing (TIF) dollars to plug the
city's hole. Indeed, aldermen told the Sun-Times'
Marc Brown that city officials have already "started seriously
exploring how it might tap into the funds." It seems that conversation,
unfortunately, is going to be one-sided. Asked about potential budget
fixes on Saturday, Mayor Daley told the press that he has little interest in tapping into his tightly-controlled TIF slush fund to provide fiscal relief.
public rationale is that by returning "surplus" TIF funds to local
taxing bodies, the city would only net about $140 million to cover
operations. The rest would be tossed back into the accounts of local
taxing bodies (such as the Chicago Public Schools or Chicago Park
District) whose budgets rely on local property taxes. But it's
important to remember that a surplus exists because the city is
siphoning off more tax revenue than it can spend each year on
public improvement projects. Plus, declaring a "surplus" isn't the only
TIF option available to the city. (We ran through a few additional
If Daley and aldermen get creative, reining in the TIF system could
provide just the shot in the arm Chicago's government needs.