Chicago - Oct. 20, 2014
Music TV Politics Sports Books People Places & Things
 
Beachwood Politics
Our monthly archive.
Who We Are
Chicago by the numbers.
Sausage Links
The Race Is On!
Wiki Daley
Wiki Rahm
Shakman Monitor
Daily Howler
Capitol Fax Blog
Illinois Channel
Ralph Martire
Government Attic
Division Street
Indie Political Report
Public Markup
The Obameter
ProPublica
BGA
Glenn Greenwald
SCOTUS Blog
The Progressive Fox
American Dream Betrayed

Will Rahm's TIF Reform Go Far Enough?

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday that he will be immediately implementing some of the reforms proposed by his Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Reform Panel five months ago. All of the proposed reforms are necessary to fix TIF and need to become law before more of our tax dollars are wasted.

Every year, $500 million worth of property tax revenue collected from Chicago taxpayers flows into a funding pool that, up until very recently, has been completely off the books - allowing for an out-of-control spending spree to well-connected developers and other special interests.

For example, in 2009, Chicago taxpayers unknowingly shelled out $31 million to United Airlines - just to help it move its corporate headquarters to the Willis Tower! Even more infuriating is that this money came from a program that is supposed to revitalize struggling areas of the city. Have you been to the Willis Tower lately? I would hardly say helping a large corporation move in there meets that requirement.

The United Airlines giveaway is only one of countless stories about the recent track record of Chicago's TIF program.

Concerns about waste and abuse in Chicago's TIF program came under increased scrutiny during last year's mayoral campaign. Once in office, Mayor Emanuel vowed to reform Chicago's TIF process and created a panel of experts to review the city's policies and historical use of this program. In August, the panel proposed meaningful reforms that would move the city in the right direction, and at the time, the mayor called for their immediate implementation.

The panel's recommendations include integrating TIF into the overall city budget, which would place TIF spending under more democratic control, without the power over TIF spending being concentrated in the mayor's office. They include measuring the performance of TIF districts and projects and propose measures to hold developers accountable for delivering on their goals. And, overall, these proposals will make it easier for the public to know where our money is being spent and if it is being spent appropriately.

Coincidentally, after the mayor's press conference Monday calling for partial TIF reform, it was announced that three companies would be returning a total of $34 million to the City of Chicago. Two of these companies are refunding TIF money because they did not deliver on their goals to create jobs. It's a good step, but without a law on the books, there's no money back guarantee for taxpayers that would discourage money from being wasted in the first place. Promises from politicians and pledges from companies to return the money aren't enough to protect taxpayers.

Not to mention, taxpayers have already waited five months and the City has already approved spending $26 million in TIF money since the first time the mayor called for the implementation of his reform panel's recommendations back in August. If the mayor and the city council admit that TIF is broken, why would they continue to use the program before it gets fixed?

With so many more TIF proposals in the queue and with millions in public money at stake, the City should not wait any longer to act. Until we see the needed reforms passed into law, the City should put a moratorium on all new TIF spending, so no more of our tax dollars are wasted.

-

To find out more, read Illinois PIRG's new report out today, Cleaning Up Tax Increment Financing: Rethinking Chicago's Troubled Redevelopment Program.

-

See also:
* From the reporter who started it all: The Chicago Reader TIF Archive.

* A Chicago Talks investigation: TIF Subsidies Bypass City Neighborhoods In Need Of Jobs.

* Chicago Inspector General report: TIFs And Maggie Daley.

* Emanuel Uses TIF As VC Fund For Testing Firm.

-

Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on January 31, 2012


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Paul Lynde vs. Halloween.
POLITICS - Democalypse 2014: Funding Or Die.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: Brandon Marshall Is Unacceptable.

BOOKS - The Onion vs. Gone Girl.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Beer Thinker: An Oktoberfest For The Rest Of Us.


Search The Beachwood Reporter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Email:

Follow BeachwoodReport on Twitter


Beachwood Radio!