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Biggest #, greatest service we reveal this # every year. The CivicLab is the annual source of this information.
Chicago collected $675 mil in 2018, so state-wide TIFs collected $1.24 billion in 2018. What is a major problem with relying on property taxes to fund education in Illinois? (A: we have one of the most regressive state income taxes in the USA. This places huge burden on local governments to rely on property taxes to fund local govt – especially public education. This leads to enormous disparities in per-pupil funding from one community to the next. If your community is wealthy and has robust property tax base – then your schools will lack for nothing.
How hard has it been to deliver this most basic data to you all tonight? Could any of you find it? How about the time and space to evaluate it, to ask meaningful questions of City Hall and get timely, substantive, and HONEST answers? Who are our allies in the media and in the universities? Who is investigating and helping us understand these programs and practices?
Do these communities look “blighted” to you – remember the phrase in the TIF statute about “reasonable people”??
TIFs are non-distributive. TIFs hoard money in wealthy communities. If a TIF is put on a poor community with stagnant or even declining property taxes – what is going to happen? (A – there is NO increment – or very little – sometimes even NEGATIVE, as properties go “under water”)
The blue dots represent TIF funded projects in the shuttered Central Loop TIF that was so controversial Mayer Daley let it expire in 2008.
Here are some Loop towers partially funded with TIF dollars.
What happened when Sears closed its State Street store – did we get our $10.5 million back? (A = No. The TIF $ are a one way street to the developer).
When money is off the books – it’s a slush fund.
4 TIFs to be terminated ASAP: Harlem Industrial, Irving Park Elston, Pershing/King, South Works Industrial = $2 million in accounts. In addition, Peterson/Cicero will be terminated when “project is completed” = $2.4 million in account. Balance being stripped out of 140 TIFs.
Whenever we have the bandwidth to do this research, we always find these sorts of connections. What’s wrong with this picture?
From Lincoln Institute of Land Policy – this study looked at all subsidies offered businesses by local governments across the USA – both outright cash gifts (like TIFs) and gifts of tax avoidance (or foregone revenue).
Again – slush fund, no planning, perverts any sort of equity lens that might want to be applied to “big picture” city planning efforts.
We often say that “TIFs” = “Taking It From Schools” and the proof is that school districts across the USA are actually suing their own mayors over bad TIF deals. In many cases, the school district was promised money under the table to make up for lost revenues triggered by creation of a TIF. But after time goes by the school district realizes its not getting what it should – and sues. The poor taxpayer is on BOTH sides of the law suit! Such a law suit unfolded in District 200 in Oak Park a few years ago – and ran up $600,000 in legal bills! What an embarrassment – that’s the cost of a fire truck – or a bunch of library books – and that’s the quite that Sharon gave us – she was on the school board when all that went down.
Since TIFs are off the books and drain our local units of government, it’s no wonder that the city pleads poverty and – instead of using progressive and sustainable sources of revenue (see our book) they turn to the worst source of funding – high interest loans. Anyone here ever have to use a pay day loan? What sort of loan is it – any one know the interest you have to pay? Hint: it’s worse than borrowing from the mob! (typical rate is 400%)
Adding it all up…we have presented these findings all over Chicago and after hearing from thousands of neighbors just like you – we’ve come to the conclusion that TIFs can’t be reformed – for all the reasons we’ve laid out here – they are part of a sad and shameful legacy stretching back to slavery to Jim Crow – to red lining – to contract home buying – to predatory lending in our communities of color – to school closings – to militarization of our neighborhoods – making TIFs racist and therefore must be abolished in Chicago.
Organizing Around TIFs -12-8-19
December 8, 2019
The CivicLab is a Chicago-based 501 c 3 tax-exempt nonprofit community-
facing “do tank” dedicated to accelerating and deepening grassroots
democracy, civic engagement and social justice efforts through
collaboration, education and innovation. We originate and build tools for
civic investigation, sustainable grassroots leadership development, civic
accountability and civic collaboration.
We seek to expand civic imagination about what is possible for Chicago’s
We recruit, develop, equip and inform new leaders to take us to that future.
Our method is: Investigate. Fabricate. Educate. Activate. Liberate. Repeat.
The TIF Illumination Project
started in 2013.
Key Policy Questions
1. Under what circumstances do we give public $ to private
2. Who plans what for whom? AKA, What defines
3. Is Cincinnati broke?
4. Who’s watching our back? Need for new leaders.
1. Secretive, arrogant, impossible to monitor or
1. Total TIF takings per project/TIF going back to start
2. List of all projects and uses funded by TIF $
3. List of all vendors, consultants, accountants paid in
establishing, monitoring, reporting on TIFs
4. Total amount of $ in TIF accounts at end of 2018
5. By the way, WHERE IS THE MEDIA/ACADEMIA on this?
Many, many instances of
Aldermen receiving cash
from TIF project
Carrie Austin, 34th Ward - $14,650 – 2 projects/$22.9 million TIF funds
Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward - $6,000 – 1 project/$1.3 billion TIF funds
Walter Burnett, 27th Ward - $3,000 – 1 project/$7 million TIF funds
Danny Solis, 25th Ward - $64,100 – 1 project/$9 million TIF funds
Authors plead "Our
message is simple:
'Please, please, if you're
going to offer incentives,
don't give them to every
firm that asks -- Don't!
Ninety percent of the
time they don't work, and
handing them out after a
company has already
located in an area
without them makes no
sense at all."
• 2010 District 200 sued Village of
Oak Park over downtown TIF.
• Case dragged on for one year.
• Cost taxpayers over $600,000
• “Economic development is not the
business of school districts –
education is. TIFs take dollars from
schools. The best economic
development localities can do is
provide great education. When
dollars from education go into these
deals the game never comes out
favorably for students.” – Sharon Patchak-
Layman, member D200 School Board