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Rahm Proposes Shutting Down Eight TIF Districts—But Don't Call It TIF Reform

By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 1, 2012 7:00PM

Photo credit: City of Chicago/Brooke Collins
TIF reform was one of Rahm Emanuel’s main platforms during his campaign for mayor last year. While he’s continued to talk about the subject in the most obscure terms possible, Emanuel proposed something during Wednesday’s City Council meeting that, on the surface, would appear to be a campaign promise.

The mayor proposed closing eight of Chicago’s 163 tax increment financing districts because they either fulfilled their goal of economic development or, in the case of one, failed to produce a project in years of existence. Seven TIF districts would be “voluntarily terminated:” 72nd and Cicero; 73rd and Kedzie; Division and Hooker; Division and North Branch; Eastman and North Branch; Homan and Grand Trunk; and West Grand. The other TIF district, Lakeside and Clarnedon, will be closed under state guidelines because it failed to produce an economic development project within seven years of its designation.

Emanuel trumpeted the announcement in a statement:

“If a TIF district has already accomplished its neighborhood improvement goals, or if a district has clearly failed to produce intended results, it should be eliminated, plain and simple.”

Using the City’s Open Data Portal, we found these districts and what projects they've recently financed. “Clearly failed to produce intended results” may be an understatement. Take a look.


TIF Projection Reports - 72nd and Cicero

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TIF Projection Reports - 73rd and Kedzie

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TIF Projection Reports - Division-Hooker

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Division/North Branch

TIF Projection Reports - Division/North Branch

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Eastman/North Branch

TIF Projection Reports - Eastman/North Branch

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Homan/Grand Trunk

TIF Projection Reports - Homan/Grand Trunk

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West Grand

TIF Projection Reports - West Grand

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TIF Projection Reports - Lakeside/Clarendon

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Closing these TIF Districts would reallocate $8.9 million to to government agencies that use property tax levies to finance their operations like the Board of Education. While it looks good at first glance, it bears mentioning that the tax districts in the Loop are still open and siphoning our property tax dollars into one giant fund to be meted out at the mayor's discretion.

Nor did Emanuel indicate that these eight districts were the beginning of closing the TIF spigot. He announced spending $4.5 million in TIF Funds for an development plan at 1820-24 W. Lawrence that would include a Sears Auto Center, LA Fitness and Mariano's Fresh Market. He also called for a 2.25 acre district at 51st and Lake Park for commercial and mixed use development