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Tax Increment Financing

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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:13am
Wed Sep 4, 2013

Elwood Takes Legal Action Against CenterPoint Over Prevailing Wage Dispute

The Village of Elwood wants CenterPoint Properties Trust to prove that it is complying with the state’s prevailing wage laws as part of a heavily-subsidized tax increment financing (TIF) agreement to construct a massive multi-use industrial park in Will County.

Elwood officials filed a complaint in Cook County Circuit Court August 28 asking that a judge require the Oakbrook-based real estate developer to hand over records that would show workers at the Deer Run Industrial Park redevelopment site have been paid according to state law.

According to Elwood’s complaint, CenterPoint has refused to provide any payroll documents to the village that would confirm that the company is adhering to the Illinois Prevailing Wage Act, which requires a minimum wage and benefits threshold for workers associated with publicly-financed projects. Under state law, developers of taxpayer-subsidized projects are required to keep such compliance records.

“We find it troubling that CenterPoint refuses to hand over public documents that would reveal if prevailing wage laws have been violated,” Elwood Mayor William Offerman said in a statement. “Because taxpayer dollars and public records are at issue, the village has a duty and obligation to ensure that prevailing wage statutes are enforced and that local workers are getting paid what they deserve and what is required by law.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:47pm
Wed Aug 28, 2013

Chicago’s 39th Ward Residents ‘Disturbed’ By TIF Program’s Impact On Education

The five tax increment financing districts (TIF) located in the 39th Ward on Chicago’s far Northwest Side had more than $24 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the start of 2013, according to city data revealed by the CivicLab at a town hall meeting Tuesday evening.

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.

Meanwhile, the 39th Ward’s four neighborhood schools are seeing their budgets slashed by a collective total of $2.3 million this school year due to the cash-strapped school district’s new per-student funding system, an analysis by Raise Your Hand for Illinois Pubic Education shows. The Chicago Board of Education is also set to vote Wednesday on the district’s proposed $5.6 billion budget for the current academic year, which contains $68 million in classroom cuts, including teacher layoffs, to help close CPS’ reported $1 billion budget hole.

Rick Cardis, a 39th Ward resident, said he’s concerned about the financial state of the school district and what CPS’ budget deficit may look like in a few years when his two young children are ready to attend school.

“I’m disturbed that the money gets diverted from our institutions like the parks and the schools through the TIF program,” he said at the meeting, held at Hiram H. Belding Elementary School. “I think our priority in Chicago should be our schools first and our children first.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:52am
Mon Aug 26, 2013

The CivicLab Illuminates Oak Park's TIF Program

Oak Park’s tax increment financing (TIF) program may operate on a smaller scale compared to the city of Chicago’s controversial economic development program, but it too has major transparency and accountability flaws, suburban residents said at a town hall meeting Sunday. 

The three TIF districts in Oak Park sucked up $164 million in property tax revenue since their inception up until the end of 2012, according to an analysis by the CivicLab, a Chicago-based non-profit focused on providing citizens with data and tools for civic engagement.

In 2012 alone, Oak Park’s three TIF districts took in $10.6 million in tax revenue, and the village spent almost $7 million of that money, the CivicLab found.

“I hope somewhere there is a spreadsheet that tells you what (the village) did with that money, and if there isn’t, you need to go get it, in my opinion,” the CivicLab’s co-founder Tom Tresser told about 15 community members at the meeting.

Quick Hit
by Michael Sandler
1:49pm
Mon Aug 19, 2013

TIFs Are for Kids! Logan Square Rally Calls For More School Funding (VIDEO)

Like thousands of other children in Chicago, Nidalis Burgos is preparing to go back to school next week. But this year is different for Burgos: the 15 year-old Lincoln Park High School student doesn’t know any of her teachers.

Budget cuts at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) led to the removal of teachers she’s grown to know, and now Burgos said her class schedule is filled with unfamiliar names. In an attempt to convince Mayor Rahm Emanuel to declare a tax increment financing (TIF) surplus and restore the budget funds, Burgos joined about 200 parents, students, teachers and elected officials for a rally Sunday at Illinois Centennial Monument in Logan Square.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
3:45pm
Fri Aug 16, 2013

Local School Councils Continue Opposition To CPS Budget Cuts

With just 10 days left until students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district head back to class, a number of local school councils (LSC) across the city have not yet approved their schools’ budget for next year.

“LSCs are elected officials and we have obligations to meet our third party contracts. We have obligations to provide our children with the highest quality education,” said Kate Schott Bolduc, head of the Common Sense Coalition of LSCs For Fair Funding and community representative on the LSC for James G. Blaine Elementary School. “The money allocated to us by CPS doesn’t allow us to do our job.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
10:57am
Thu Aug 8, 2013

CPS Students Launch 'Union', Demand Voice In District's Decision-Making Process (VIDEO)

A group of students enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district are demanding a seat at the table when school officials make decisions that impact their educational environment.

At a kick-off meeting Wednesday night, a small group of students announced the formation of the Chicago Student Union (CSU). The group aims to unite students from various grassroots organizations across the city, such as Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools (CSOSOS) and Voices Of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), to ensure students’ voices are heard during the school action decision-making process.

“We’ve all seen in our fights that we’ve been out-powered and out-spent by CPS. No matter how many marches we did, they still voted to close 50 schools and fired thousands of teachers,” said Ross Floyd, 16, a member of CSOSOS and co-founder of the CSU. “We have to come up with a new plan, and as any civil rights movement has shown us, when people come together they find strength in numbers.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:49pm
Wed Aug 7, 2013

Far South Side Residents Demand More TIF Accountability At Town Hall Meeting

Far South Side residents were shocked to learn that the five tax increment financing (TIF) districts located in the 19th Ward sucked up $4.2 million, or about 11 percent, of their property tax dollars in 2011, according to data from the CivicLab.

Three of the TIF districts located 100 percent within the ward, which includes the Beverly, Mount Greenwood and Morgan Park neighborhoods, raked in a total of $24.9 million since their inception through the end of 2011. The three districts were created in 1994, 2001, and 2007.

The news was especially troubling to the approximately 30 residents who attended the CivicLab's 19th Ward  TIF Illumination Project meeting Tuesday night, seeing as though a portion of that money would have otherwise gone to the public school district and other government units were it not for the city’s controversial economic development program.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:40pm
Fri Aug 2, 2013

Parents Fire Back At CPS Over Budget Cuts At Riotous Public Hearing

A public hearing regarding the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) proposed $5.6 billion budget for next year quickly escalated into angry shouting just minutes into the district’s financial presentation.

The planned budget for the 2013-2014 school year includes some $68 million in classroom cuts, including teacher layoffs, in an effort to help close the district’s reported $1 billion budget hole.

CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley told the crowd that the district’s budget deficit is being driven largely by an increased pension payment it must make now that its three-year pension vacation has ended.

But the more than 100 community members at Thursday night's meeting, held at Truman College, were irritated by that answer, saying CPS should be looking into other revenue streams before making deep cuts to schools.

“How about TIFs,” one audience member shouted at Cawley, referring to tax increment financing (TIF) funds.

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
2:05pm
Wed Jul 31, 2013

Family Of CPS Students Refuses To Accept School Closure: 'I'm Not Sending My Grandkids Anyplace Else' (VIDEO)

Irene Robinson said she is taking her grandchildren to Anthony Overton Elementary School in the fall, despite the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district's decision to shutter the building for good last month. Overton Elementary, at 221 E. 49th St. in the Bronzeville neighborhood, is one of 50 schools the Chicago Board of Education voted to close as the district faces a massive budget deficit. Progress Illinois took a walk with Robinson and two of her grandchildren to what CPS has deemed to be their new welcoming school.

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