B12 Solipsism

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One Third Of Chicago in TIF Zone

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Interest is Going Up - Ilford HP5
Interest is Going Up – Ilford HP5

Juan-Pablo Valez of the New York Times adds this bit of detail to the Chicago TIF story that we’ve been complaining about for a while1

But many people remain unswayed. They point out that much of the TIF money was diverted from public schools, parks, libraries and other taxing districts and was instead put into accounts that Mr. Daley controlled and kept shrouded in secrecy.

“The findings do nothing to dissuade what had been my longstanding concerns, which were transparency in the process,” said John Fritchey, a Cook County commissioner.

Mr. Fritchey, a North Side Democrat, irked Mr. Daley last year when, as a state representative, he introduced legislation that would have funneled TIF money directly to the Chicago Public Schools.

Mr. Fritchey and other elected officials in Chicago have said that hundreds of millions of dollars are sitting in the accounts of scores of TIF districts, even after Mr. Daley tapped the TIF account last year to help balance the city’s 2011 budget.

“There is no question that several good projects came to be through the use of TIF funds,” Mr. Fritchey said. “The bigger question is, Is the city getting its money’s worth out of that investment? It’s a troubling prospect to give millions of taxpayer dollars to projects that are also generating millions in developer fees.”

Mr. Daley vigorously championed the use of TIF. By the end of his tenure in May, city officials had established more than 160 TIF districts that covered about one-third of Chicago. In total, the districts capture about $500 million a year, city and Cook County documents show.

The amount is equal to about one-sixth of the city’s annual core budget, although under Mr. Daley the money was not tracked or approved as part of the budgeting process, and his administration provided only a vague accounting of its TIF activities.

 

(click here to continue reading TIF Aided Public and Private Projects Almost Evenly, Analysis Shows – NYTimes.com.)

United Airlines Headquarters
United Airlines Headquarters

If 33% of the city is located in a TIF development zone, doesn’t it effectively defeat the purpose of tax? Especially when so much of the money gets funneled to politically connected developers? Perhaps in addition to adding more transparency to the process, before a project gets funded, the voters of the district should get to vote directly on the decision. Ha.

Now, as aides to Mayor Rahm Emanuel review the city’s use of TIF amid the backdrop of severe budget shortfalls, an analysis by the Chicago News Cooperative shows that TIF spending was allocated almost evenly between public works and subsidies for private interests.

The examination of city TIF records for the last eight years of Mr. Daley’s tenure reveals that his administration spent about $1.7 billion in TIF money toward public and private endeavors. While about $700 million was spent to the benefit of private interests, roughly $865 million went to public projects like school construction, street repairs and Chicago Transit Authority stations and tracks. Another $1 billion paid off bonds issued to finance public and private projects, for a total outlay of almost $3 billion, the city records show…

Developers received $505 million in subsidies, just over 30 percent of the total TIF money spent by Mr. Daley. Those payments included $5.4 million to United Airlines to move its headquarters to Willis Tower, $13.7 million for the insurance giant CNA to renovate its South Loop headquarters and $8.5 million to help renovate the Carbide and Carbon building to house the Hard Rock Hotel on Michigan Avenue.

The city also spent more than $200 million buying properties, razing vacant buildings and cleaning up toxic land, mostly for the benefit of private developments.
Another $90 million, or 5 percent of total spending, was used for program administration, consulting and legal services, and for job training for businesses in select districts.

Carbon and Carbide Building blues
Carbon and Carbide Building blues

Giving taxpayer money to asshole corporations like CNA and United Airlines (and potentially the thuggish Ayn Randians at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange) really irks me. What do they need my cash contributions for? I’d rather divert my tax dollars back to schools (even though I don’t have children), roads, bike lanes, water mains, yadda yadda…

Footnotes:
  1. and we’re not the only, nor the best source of news about TIF slush funds btw []

Written by Seth Anderson

August 7th, 2011 at 8:22 am

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  1. [...] in the former MB Financial building that we’ve discussed previously, one that is getting millions of taxpayer dollars in a time of fiscal austerity for the non-developer [...]

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