Cook County Clerk David Orr on Thursday released the 2012 TIF revenue report, which shows $723 million was collected in the 435 active tax increment financing (TIF) districts in Chicago and suburban Cook County.
Chicago will collect $457 million in TIF revenue for the 2012 tax year. Chicago’s 2012 TIF revenue represents an increase of $3.3 million or 0.74 percent over 2011. The slight growth follows two years of TIF revenue declines – an 11 percent drop in 2011 and a 2 percent dip in 2010. Since 1986, $5.5 billion has been collected from Chicago TIFs.
“The city is making some headway by cancelling nine TIF districts, not adding any to the books, and posting more TIF information online,” Orr said. “But there is a lot of room for improvement in accountability and equity, especially when so many taxpayer dollars are diverted into the Loop.”
For example, Orr would like to see a comprehensive report on all Chicago TIFs that clearly demonstrates how much of the $5.5 billion has been spent, how much is earmarked, and how much is unencumbered. The report could break down the distribution of dollars by project type: schools, parks, libraries, infrastructure, streetscape, commercial, etc.
Orr also urges Mayor Emanuel and the City Council to declare a TIF surplus – sooner rather than later – so Chicago Public Schools can get a much-needed funding infusion.
“How do we explain to school kids that gym, music and art classes are cancelled while profitable businesses are tapping into the city’s tax base?” Orr said. “TIFs may have helped make downtown Chicago beautiful, but not enough is being done with TIF funds in the neighborhoods where they are needed most.”
Chicago has returned $182 million in TIF surplus to Chicago Public Schools in the last five years, including $10.5 million last year. Orr said the city should be able to return more TIF money this summer to help plug CPS’s budget hole.
Two years ago, Emanuel’s TIF Reform Panel made recommendations to improve the city’s use of TIFs, including matrices for determining surpluses, benchmarking performance, and periodic reviews to determine if a TIF should be continued or revised. Orr said he is hopeful the city is moving toward these goals.