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Fritchey Tries To Reign In TIFs While Wags Takes A Swipe At Daley

By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 24, 2010 2:20PM

2010_8_city_of_chicago_logo.jpg On Sunday, State Representative John Fritchey announced that he was introducing legislation that would require unappropriated funds from Tax Increment Financing districts to be refunded to their original taxing bodies at the end of the fiscal year. Tax Increment Financing, or TIFs, freeze the amount of revenue that a taxing body, such as schools, parks, the county and other agencies can take from a district for 23 years. And revenue generated from a tax increase is diverted into a separate fund, which is operated by the city. A product of state law, TIFs were designed to fight blight in an area that might need an extra boost for development. As a result, those other taxing bodies wind up starved for cash while the TIF fund balloons into a pool of cash that is accounted for separately from the city budget. "If you take the numbers based on 2009, this program, this legislation would have resulted in $500 million going back to the Chicago Public Schools. That's enough to wipe out $370 million deficit plus a surplus," Fritchey told ACB7.

And while Fritchey, who is running for the county commissioner seat vacated by Forrest Claypool (who is himself running as an independent for County Assessor), won't be in the General Assembly in time to shepherd the legislation through, he's suggested on his Facebook page that there are others downstate that can take up the cause in his stead.

Meanwhile, 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, who has suggested that he is considering a run for mayor, sat down with John Kass at the Tribune, leveling a few choice lines at Da Mare. "If you open the books, like we did with the parking meter deal, it will prove how bad of a manager he is," Wags told Kass. "When we had surpluses in the 1990s, you could shower money everywhere to fix anything. But he wasn't taking care of the underlying fiscal infrastructure," Waguespack said. "And as the water went down, which means the economy, it exposed everything under the pier, just under the surface, how bad this all was. He never prepared for this moment, which any good manager should. And that's why he's been exposed in some ways as a horrible manager of the people's taxes." Wags didn't mice words in his criticism of Daley. "Voters know in their heart that he's wrong," Waguespack said. "They know in their heart that he's dragging the city down. Yet no one has been able to stand up to it, except maybe people in the media like you. Even elected officials say we need a new way. The old way no longer works."

Whether Waguespack will walk the walk against Daley remains to be seen. In another interview, this one with the Chicago News Cooperative, Waguespack indicated he'll begin circulating a nominating petition today - the first day candidates can do so for February's civic elections - to run for reelection as alderman though a mayoral run isn't out of the question.

Ironically, as both reformers move forward, the two, who had been allies including Fritchey's backing of Waguespack in the 2007 election, have since had a falling out.