Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s TIF Reform Panel is calling for more “transparency” in the controversial Tax Increment Financing Program. TIFs were designed to improve economically depressed neighborhoods, but Mayor Richard M. Daley was criticized for using the districts to fund downtown projects and raking off tax money for a mayoral slush fund. During the campaign, Emanuel promised to establish a standard “to make sure TIFs are meeting their economic development commitment.”
The report recommends:
The Sun-Times’ Mark Brown is skeptical about Emanuel’s desire to reform the TIF program, which is an irresistible source of cash to fund mayoral projects:
What it won’t be is gone, as some of its most ardent critics had hoped, nor will there be a rush to shut down any of the more questionable TIF districts and restore the normal flow of tax dollars to the Board of Education, Park District or the city’s corporate coffers (although they might eventually get around to trimming some of them.)
Instead, the large sums generated for the city from TIF districts — about $500 million this year — will continue to be available to the new mayor to drive his own economic development agenda, just as for Daley.
But Congressman Mike Quigley, who as a county board member criticized Daley’s use of TIFs, called Emanuel’s report a move away from abuses of the program.
“It’s a good day,” Quigley said. “I’m not after Rich at this point in time, but this report is in such sharp contrast with past TIF policy.”
Read the entire report here.