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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:03pm
Fri Oct 2, 2015

Chicagoans Speak Out On 2016 Budget With Progressive Aldermen At Town Hall Meeting

Chicagoans vented their frustrations over items in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2016 budget proposal, including a record $588 million property tax hike, during a Thursday night town hall meeting hosted by the city council's Progressive Reform Caucus.

In addition to the proposed property tax increase, the three progressive caucus members at the meeting, Alds. Scott Waguespack (32nd), Nicholas Sposato (38th) and John Arena (45th), got an earful from residents about Emanuel's proposals to privatize the city's 3-1-1 non-emergency operations and increase fees on taxi cabs and ride-hailing services, like Uber and Lyft.

Emanuel wants to outsource 3-1-1 operations to save the cash-strapped city an estimated $1 million annually.

Debra Powell, a 3-1-1 operator of 10 years, said the privatization plan could cost 58 call center jobs and negatively impact the quality of service provided to Chicagoans.

"You don't know who you're going to be talking to when you call 3-1-1 and it's been outsourced," Powell said at the budget town hall meeting, held at the Copernicus Center on the Northwest Side. "I would rather speak with someone who lives in the city, born and raised, knows the neighborhoods. We have ... 58 operators there who live all across the city, ... so we pretty much can relate to all the residents calling in."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:34pm
Mon Aug 31, 2015

Analysis: Chicago's TIF Program Had $1.4 Billion In Unspent Funds At Start Of 2015

A recent review of city documents shows Chicago's 150 tax increment financing districts had over $1.4 billion sitting in their collective bank accounts at the start of 2015. The review, by the TIF Illumination Project, comes as the cash-strapped city faces large budget and pension issues.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:29pm
Tue Jul 14, 2015

Chicago TIF Revenue Drops 12 Percent, Seven Districts Slated For Early Termination

The seven downtown Chicago tax increment financing (TIF) districts that Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to phase out have together collected $869 million in revenue since their inception, according to figures provided by Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Just in the last year, the seven TIF districts had combined revenues of $93 million.

Those numbers were contained in Orr's 2014 TIF report released Monday, the same day news broke that the city will be shutting down seven downtown TIF districts after current project balances have been paid in full. As part of Emanuel's TIF changes -- which were announced as both the city and school district grapple with large pension and budgetary issues -- no new spending in the seven TIF districts will occur.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is expected to get $125 million in revenue over five years under the plan to shutter the TIF districts, and the city will receive $50 million. Other funds will be set aside for "emergency infrastructure projects."

"Chicago and the mayor are moving in the right direction by freezing new spending at some downtown TIFs and dissolving those TIFs when current projects have ended," Orr said in a press release. "Still, such scrubbing is overdue and it could certainly include more than seven of 148 TIFs."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:58pm
Tue Jan 20, 2015

Environmental Concerns Swirl Around Mission Hills Development Plan, Opponents Urge Cook Co. Board To Delay Vote (UPDATED)

Residents of Mission Hills Country Club Village in unincorporated Northbrook want Cook County commissioners to delay a vote on a new housing development proposed for their community.

Northbrook-based Red Seal Development wants to build a 137-unit housing development that includes town homes, duplexes and single-family homes on about 44 acres of land at Mission Hills, a complex that currently features 781 condominiums and town homes as well as a separately-owned, 18-hole golf course.

Red Seal is seeking approval from the Cook County Board for zoning changes that would pave the way for the project, which would involve building on half of the existing golf course.

The Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) voted unanimously to advance Red Seal's proposal back in December. As a result, the Cook County Board's Zoning and Building Committee is slated to consider the project at its meeting on Wednesday morning. If the committee approves the project, it could go before the full Cook County Board for consideration later in the day.

Mission Hills Openlands, a group of residents leading the effort against the proposed development, claims the project would threaten the environment and property values in the community and lead to more flooding problems, among other concerns.

"What they're doing is an environmental travesty," stressed Mission Hills Openlands founder Karen Jump. "They would be clear cutting about 500 trees and taking 44 acres of open lands and putting it under asphalt and concrete. And we're in a very short distance to the Des Plaines River, and there's flooding all around us."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:58pm
Thu Jun 19, 2014

CivicLab: Chicago's 48th Ward Had $22 Million In TIF Funds Last Year

Far North Side Chicago residents were shocked to learn that the five active tax increment financing (TIF) districts located in the 48th Ward had $22.3 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the start of 2013, according to city data revealed by the CivicLab at a Wednesday night community meeting.

That money would have otherwise been dispersed among the local units of government that rely on property tax revenue, including the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, were it not for the city’s controversial TIF program, which is intended to spur economic development in “blighted” areas.

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