Alders Ameya Pawar (47th), Pat O’Connor (40th), Joe Moreno (1st) and Pat Dowell (3rd) are introducing a resolution at today’s budget committee to ask all alders to choose and stop certain TIF-funded projects in their wards (instructions on how to find TIF districts are below) so that the money can be declared as a surplus.
Part of the surplus would be given to the Chicago Public Schools, where it would have gone had property tax revenue never been diverted to the TIF.
What is TIF? Quick answer: All of the new property tax revenue generated after the date the “Tax Increment Financing” district took effect goes to a fund that can only be spent on certain kinds of projects within that district, while all of the property tax revenue generated at the amount that was collected just before the district took effect continues to go to the city, the school district, and other taxing districts.
Alder Pawar has already picked $16.5 million worth of projects that he’s stopping in order to give back the money to schools.
It’s still very difficult to know how much unallocated money is in a TIF district’s bank account (what is essentially surplus). It’s also still very difficult to figure out which projects have had money allocated to them (called an obligation) but not yet spent.
The resolution works as a companion to legislation [actually a resolution] previously introduced by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th), which called for the city to funnel unallocated TIF dollars back to CPS. [read the resolution]
Rather than allowing Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his budget office to decide where to sweep for TIF surplus dollars, Pawar said aldermen should be leading the effort, stating which TIF projects they’re willing to give up.
Instructions to find TIF districts in your ward
You can use Chicago Cityscape’s Places maps to easily find which TIF districts overlap any of the 50 wards.
- Find your ward. Use the 3rd Ward, Alder Pat Dowell because Wetli already explored the 47th Ward TIF districts.
- Scroll down to the table called “3rd Ward, Ald. Pat Dowell’s Nearby Places”.
- Type “TIF district” in the table’s search form. Gasp at the fact that there are 17 districts that overlap the 3rd Ward.
Let’s look deep at the TIF district called “24th/Michigan”, 76.7 percent of which is in the 3rd Ward, has several millions of dollars in obligations to vaguely-described projects, to continue paying for already-built projects, or future projects. This includes $6.4 million for the Cermak Green Line station and $4.5 million annually for an unspecified project at the National Teachers Academy pursuant to an intergovernmental agreement with the Chicago Public Schools.
The National Teachers Academy project isn’t even on the city’s mildly useful TIF projects map.
Alder Dowell has her work cut out for her to find projects that are in both the 3rd Ward and in one of the 17 intersecting TIF districts that she would be willing to cut so that the Chicago Public Schools are less broke. The same arduous but noble task belongs to all of the other alders as well.