September 7, 2017-We hear a lot about the dire financial straits of the City of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools. According to a new report by the Chicago TIF Illumination Project, there is one City account that is flush with cash. TIF accounts, which are primarily used to provide incentives to developers, had nearly $1.42 BILLION in reserve on January 1, 2017. According to an analysis by the former Chicago News Co-Op*, from 2002-2010, half of the property taxes collected in TIF districts went to private businesses.
Chicago had 148 active TIFs, an increase of two districts since 2015. Overall, Chicago has had 180 TIF districts since the program was created in 1984. A total of 32 TIFs have been closed or terminated.
Total Property Tax Increment extraction for 2016 = $493,072,706. This is the amount of property taxes extracted by Chicago’s TIF districts and diverted from local units of government that rely on property taxes for their operation. 56% of Chicago property taxes are SUPPOSED to go to the Chicago Public Schools.
Chicago’s 148 active TIFs have collected a total of $4,652,279,465 since they were created. Chicago’s terminated TIFs extracted $1,971,755,349 in property taxes while they were active. All in, Chicago’s TIFs have collected a staggering $6,626,034,814 through 2016! The biggest extractor was the Central Loop TIF (#014) which took an astonishing $987,767,890 from 1984 through 2008.
TIF funds are generally spent by bureaucrats with little accountability. In Indiana, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) was recently given the power to create transit development districts around current and future train stations. These transit development districts will operate as “super-tifs” and will siphon money from schools, police and fire for 30 years. The unelected Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority will control all of these funds and will provide little transparency as to how the funds are spent. Additionally, our cities and towns are creating even more TIF districts. TIF funds are generally administered by unelected redevelopment commissions with little oversight by city or town councils.