Monday, July 20, 2015

Tough TIF Talk in Chicago

The Chicago Tribune's (sub. reqd.) op-ed today is on TIF in the Windy City:

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced two years ago he would use tax increment financing money to buy land for a basketball arena, he poked the beast.
The TIF program had been widely criticized as a slush fund for Mayor Richard M. Daley. In a 2010 editorial, we called it an "off the books bonanza." So Emanuel's decision to spend TIF money on land that would benefit privately funded DePaul University provoked TIF critics who viewed the program as a clout kitty, expanded far beyond its original intent to revive blighted neighborhoods.
Last week, Emanuel placated the beast. He announced the city will phase out seven downtown TIF districts. His action is an acknowledgment that the TIF program, especially downtown, has run its course.
No new TIF projects will be built in the seven districts, outside of projects already approved by City Hall. The TIFs that will eventually go away: Chicago/Kingsbury, River West, LaSalle Central, Canal Street/Congress Expressway, Jefferson/Roosevelt, Roosevelt/Canal and River South.
Emanuel also wants to end the "off the books bonanza" by mandating that at least 25 percent of surplus funds in healthy TIFs get redistributed to taxing bodies. He'll establish a policy on when and how to shut down TIFs. While his administration has been more transparent on TIF spending than Daley's, TIF districts, their surpluses and how the money gets transferred and spent has made the program a constant target of suspicion.

Read the full op-ed at Westlaw:   2015 WLNR 21452729

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