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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:36pm
Fri Jul 12, 2013

Cook County Property Tax Bills To Provide More TIF Transparency, But More Changes Are Needed

Cook County property taxpayers in a Chicago or suburban tax increment financing (TIF) district will soon learn how much of their money is being diverted from local units of government and sent to a TIF program now that the data is being added to county tax bills.

Cook County Clerk David Orr released his 2012 TIF revenue report Thursday and announced that the second installment of the 2013 property tax bill will include the TIF information. The bills will be mailed during the summer of 2014.

Currently, Cook County tax bills for constituents living within a TIF district show zero dollars are being siphoned off into a TIF fund. But there were 435 active TIF districts in Chicago and suburban Cook County, which pulled in a collective $723 million during the 2012 tax year, according to Orr’s report.

Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab, is one of many Chicago TIF activists who have been calling for the information to be included on property tax bills. Tresser said the data is going to make “all the difference in the world” when it comes to TIF transparency.

“Your tax bill is lying to you when it says zero,” Tresser said. “It’s not zero.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:47pm
Thu Jun 6, 2013

TIF Program Angers Bridgeport, McKinley Park Residents

Residents of Chicago's 11th Ward were outraged upon learning that $57.4 million in property tax money was sitting in their tax increment financing (TIF) districts' collective bank accounts at the end of 2011, according to data unveiled by the CivicLab.

One resident suggested at least one way that money could have been put to use at the CivicLab's TIF Illumination Project meeting Wednesday night.

Maureen Sullivan with Bridgeport Alliance said she has been pushing the city to renovate the Ramova Theater at 35th and Halsted streets for years, to no avail.

The city currently owns the property, which has been closed since 1986, Sullivan said.

“It could be a thousand-seat performance space and the largest economic generator on Halsted Street, and it's sitting there empty," Sullivan said in remarks after the meeting, held at the McKinley Park library. "And I'm so angry, because when I talk to the city, they dangle (TIF) in front of you, like 'we may be able to get you some TIF funds for this.'”

Quick Hit
by Matthew Blake
6:34pm
Thu Nov 15, 2012

Emanuel Calendar Shows Mayor Holding On To National Profile

Through a public information request, the Chicago Tribune obtained Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s daily calendar between January and August of 2012. The Tribune’s focus on the hundreds of pages of documents is almost identical to the Chicago Reader, which did a two-part review of Emanuel’s public schedule between January and November of 2011. In a nutshell, the publications noted that Emanuel meets a lot with business leaders.

Emanuel’s ties with business are important given his policy record of ramming the Infrastructure Trust through city council in April, a nebulous effort to use private money for public projects, and expanding his own role as chairman of World Business Chicago, which coordinated the NATO summit in May.

But perusing through the calendar, available on the Tribune Web site, reveals other elements of Emanuel’s tenure including his national profile and approach to the Chicago Teachers Union labor dispute.

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