Tuesday, November 10, 2009

David Orr Releases His Annual TIF Report

Posted By on 11.10.09 at 10:50 AM

Cook County Clerk David Orr has just released his annual tax increment financing report, and for the first time in years the news is good for taxpayers — the city's TIF take went down in 2009.

Of course, as with every thing else with the TIF program, it's all a little complicated, so let's break it down a little bit.

In 2009, the city's 160 or so TIF districts diverted about $495.6 million from the schools, park, county, and other taxing bodies, according to Orr's report. That's down from the $555.3 million they diverted in 2008.

That means there's less for Mayor Daley's slush fund and more money for the other government bodies.

But the big reason the TIF take fell may be a one-time deal. The Central Loop TIF closed in December 2008 — after more than 24 years of devouring hundreds of millions in property tax dollars.

Meanwhile, the other TIF districts kept chugging right along. All total, they took in $51 million more than they did in 2008 — an 11.4 percent increase.

Furthermore, it looks as though Mayor Daley's planning to create a TIF to replace the Central Loop, according to the shadow budget that Mick Dumke and I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.

Follow me here. In 2008, the City Council approved an $18 million subsidy from the Central Loop TIF to help pay for the long-delayed reconstruction of a building at 118 W. Randolph.

But the Central Loop TIF district expired — with all of its hundreds of millions of dollars spent — before the money could be paid to the developers of that project.

So the city's planning to take those millions from another TIF district, the LaSalle/Central, and send it into a "new TIF" that will fund the project on Randolph, according to the shadow budget, which Mayor Daley refuses to share with the public.

It's not at all certain exactly why the city — with all of its other pressing debts and deficits — needs a new downtown TIF. After all, the Central Loop TIF supposedly transformed the Loop — Block 37 and its underground train station to the contrary. At least that's what Mayor Daley and his allies keep telling us.

Remember the TIF program was intended to fund development in low-income, blighted communities. But because of loopholes in the state law just about any community qualifies — including Lincoln Park, Lakeview, and North Center.

As Orr's report makes clear, the neighborhoods receiving the most in blight-fighting TIF money are the wealthiest. For example, the Roseland/Michigan TIF on the far south side collected $834,203 in 2009. In contrast, the top TIF taker was the Near South TIF, just south of the Loop, which brought in $54.7 million. By the way, Mayor Daley happens to live in that TIF district.

The LaSalle/Central — which runs through the heart of the business district — was second, bringing in about $26 million.

So in the fight against blight in Chicago it's the wealthiest communities with the least amount of blight and the most political connections that get the goodies. Funny how that works.

Anyway, you can read the report by going to the county clerk's Web site.

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