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Tax Increment Financing

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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:34pm
Mon Oct 21, 2013

Chicagoans Urge DePaul University President To Reject $55 Million In TIF Funds For Basketball Arena (VIDEO)

Chicagoans fed up with the mayor's decision to use public funds to help finance a controversial DePaul University basketball arena near McCormick Place urged the college's president Monday to refuse the $55 million in tax increment financing (TIF) funds set aside for the project.

About 40 education activists picketed outside a City Club of Chicago luncheon at a downtown Maggiano's where DePaul University President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider was speaking. The protestors said the private and profitable college does not need taxpayer dollars for the project, arguing that TIF money would be better spent on public education.

"Accepting city money from schools and from people who need it the most is not in the light of the tradition of St. Vincent DePaul," said Roderick Wilson, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, an organization represented at Monday's protest. "They're not living up to their legacy, and we want to remind him of that ... This is not acceptable, and we want [Holtschneider] to refuse that money and let it go back to our schools."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:05pm
Tue Oct 8, 2013

Report: Downtown Chicago Job Growth Excludes Most City Residents

A new study shows that 52,404 new jobs came to downtown Chicago between 2002 and 2011 thanks to economic development investments, yet only one in four of those positions went to city residents.

Suburbanites and people in prosperous Chicago communities like Lakeview and Lincoln Park mostly gained those jobs, and residents in the city's predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods were largely excluded, the report issued Tuesday by Grassroots Collaborative found.

From 2004 to 2008, the city spent more than $1.2 billion in public, tax increment financing (TIF) funds for these type of downtown, job creation investments, according to the report called, “Downtown Prosperity, Neighborhood Neglect: Chicago’s Black and Latino Workers Left Behind.”

"This type of development creates disparities clearly along racial lines, and the city should not be endorsing policies that shift more money to a smaller group of the city," said Eric Tellez, research and data manager with Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of community and labor groups. "For all of the city to do well, all of its residents need to do well. Prioritizing downtown development to the exclusion of neighborhoods is an economic development strategy that is failing most people in the city."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:12pm
Mon Sep 30, 2013

Albany Park Residents Want Local Aldermen To Oppose Northwest Side Charter School Expansion

Albany Park students and parents who gathered for an education meeting late last week want their local aldermen to publicly oppose the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) plan to expand charter schools on the Northwest Side.

The more than 50 residents at the meeting, held at Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church, said they plan to visit the offices of Northwest Side Alds. Deb Mell (33rd), Rey Colon (35th) and Margaret Laurino (39th) this week to urge them to sign a pledge to support neighborhood school investments and speak out against new charters in the area.

CPS issued a request for proposals (RFP) in mid-August for new charters in a number of "priority communities", primarily on the Northwest and Southwest Sides, as a means to help alleviate neighborhood school overcrowding. The charters are slated to open in the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years. 

Those at the meeting said it's unacceptable that CPS released the RFP at a time when Albany Park neighborhood schools are grappling with more than $5 million in budget cuts.

"These budget cuts left us with huge high school fees, not enough teachers or books for our classes, and our neighborhood schools are struggling to give us [an] education we deserve, but still, the mayor wants to open new charter schools," said Jamie Adams, a Roosevelt High School sophomore and leader with Chicago Students Organizing to Save our Schools (CSOSS).

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.

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