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Will Daley Tap TIFs to Balance the Budget?

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 3, 2010 4:30PM

Photo by Kate Gardiner
The Daley Administration said on Friday that the city is staring down the barrel of a budget deficit of over $650 million. That deficit could mean a bleak picture for city services next year. CBS2 is reporting that one option on the table for balancing the budget is cutting the city's recycling program. Several aldermen told CBS2 that they were told mid-June that Streets and Sanitation is looking to privatize the city' recycling program in an effort to save $40 to $60 million in the budget.

Cuts, privatization, everything is being looked at according to the mayor. "You’re looking at everything. You have to look at this very carefully,” Daley told the Tribune. The Mayor did say that he's not interested in shoving more budget cuts on the city's workforce or raising taxes and fees on city residents. He's also not excited about capping his cherished TIF funds. But some aldermen think that tapping into TIFs might make sense in these troubled economic times. “There’s money still there, and if times were good, I would say continue using the TIF funds to spur development and build projects,” 38th Ward Ald. Thomas Allen told the Tribune. “Since times are not good and we have this recurring revenue stream available to us, we should use that revenue.” Mayor Daley's Budget Director Gene Munin did acknowledge that using TIF funds to balance the budget is at least under consideration. “There’s obviously a price to be paid if you do that,” he told the Tribune. “That’s an economic development tool.”

According to the Tribune, "there is about $1.2 billion in those funds, and only $500 million of that has been committed to specific projects in the districts, which are designed to bring blighted areas back to life. If that $700 million was declared surplus, about half would go to the schools and about a fifth to the city." Still, we'd be surprised to see Daley tap into TIF funds even if it meant avoiding more cuts. With municipal elections on the horizon, expect this budget debate to be especially political.