Facing increasing scrutiny from affordable housing advocates and parents,
Mayor Daley is getting defensive about Chicago's tax increment
financing (TIF) network. Earlier this week, an administration official incorrectly stated
that the city spends "a good amount of TIF for affordable housing." And
in a new WBEZ report, the mayor responded this way: "Most of our
schools are built with money from the TIF districts."
It's true that a substantial TIF dollars go towards school construction. But as the Reader's Ben Joravsky recently noted: "TIF isn't really intended to pay
for projects like schools. In fact, while legal, using TIF to build
schools is antithetical to the program." At the same time, Daley's TIF network has historically absorbed $250-$300 million in annual property tax revenue that would
otherwise flow to the Chicago Board of Education's beleaguered budget.
The Raise Your Hand coalition is scheduled to meet with CPS chief Ron Huberman next week to discuss their reform ideas, including a proposal to exempt the Board of Education's tax dollars from the TIF system. Stay tuned ...