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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:18pm
Fri Dec 5, 2014

Aldermanic Candidate Questions TIF Use In Chicago's 11th Ward, Calls For Better Use Of Funds

Tax increment financing (TIF) districts located solely in Chicago's 11th Ward on the South Side had $69.5 million in unspent property tax revenue sitting in their collective bank accounts at the start of this year. 

That money would have otherwise been dispersed among the local units of government that rely on property tax revenue, including the school and park districts, were it not for the city's controversial TIF program, which is intended to spur economic development in "blighted" areas.

The Chicago-based CivicLab revealed that TIF finding and relevant information at a Thursday night meeting held at the First Lutheran Church of the Trinity, 643 W. 31st St., in Bridgeport.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:44pm
Fri Sep 26, 2014

South Siders Question TIF Use In Chicago's 21st Ward

South Side residents were shocked to learn at a Thursday night community meeting that the six active tax increment financing (TIF) districts in Chicago's 21st Ward had more than $1.6 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the end of 2013.

The Chicago-based CivicLab revealed that TIF finding and relevant information at a meeting held at the Carter G. Woodson Regional Library in Roseland.

The $1.6 million in unspent funds would have otherwise been dispersed among the local units of government that rely on property tax revenue, including the school and park districts, were it not for the city’s controversial TIF program, which is intended to spur economic development in “blighted” areas.

The non-profit CivicLab launched its TIF Illumination Project, which highlights how the city's TIF program works at the ward level, back in February 2013. The group has held 30 community TIF meetings thus far

Many South Siders at the meeting said they were unaware of the private projects that got TIF money in the 21st Ward, including a Home Depot and the Chatham Market shopping center that received a $32 million TIF subsidy. 

"I think a lot of people have been getting a raw deal," Leatha Patton, a 21st Ward resident of more than 42 years, told Progress Illinois after the event. "These are things that the alderman should make you aware of. We should know how it works, and who gets what."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:52am
Thu Aug 28, 2014

Southwest Side Chicagoans Question TIF Use In 23rd Ward (UPDATED)

Residents of Chicago's 23rd Ward raised concerns about the city's tax increment financing (TIF) program after learning Wednesday evening that millions in economic development funds have yet to be spent in their community.

At the CivicLab's TIF town hall meeting at John F. Kennedy High School, Southwest Side community members learned that the six TIF districts located in the 23rd Ward had about $16.6 million sitting in their collective bank accounts at the end of 2013. Last year alone, the ward's TIF districts collected nearly $2.3 million in property tax revenue, according to the CivicLab's analysis.

Business owner and Southwest Side resident Martin Arteaga, who is running for alderman in the 23rd Ward, attended the meeting.

"There needs to be a lot more clarity and transparency as to where this TIF money is going," he told Progress Illinois. "Here in the 23rd Ward, particularly in the Midway Airport area along Cicero Avenue, you have a bunch of empty lots. We could use some of that money to redevelop that area and actually be able to expand our tax base, because we have thousands of people who pass through going to Midway Airport.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:52am
Thu Aug 21, 2014

CivicLab To Emanuel: 'Come Clean' About $1.7 Billion In Unspent TIF Funds

Volunteers with Chicago's CivicLab want a full accounting of the more than $1.7 billion that was sitting in the city’s collective tax increment financing (TIF) district bank accounts at the end of 2013.

Tom Tresser, co-founder of the CivicLab and leader of its volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project, said the group plans to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the city within the week to "demand the mayor to come clean" about how those unspent funds will be used. Tresser said the group is prepared to take legal action if the city denies the FOIA request.

"We asked for (similar information) last year, and they told us to go take a leap," Tresser said at a TIF discussion Wednesday evening at the CivicLab, 114 N. Aberdeen St. "This time, we're going to sue if we don't get it."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
9:32am
Mon Aug 18, 2014

Chicagoans Raise Concerns Over Proposed Washington Park TIF District

Chicago's Community Development Commission advanced a controversial plan to the city council last Tuesday that would create a new tax increment financing district in the economically struggling Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side, despite opposition from some local residents. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the issue.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:09pm
Fri Jun 27, 2014

CivicLab's 'Democracy Design Studio' To Launch New Tools, Programs For Activists

Progress Illinois profiles the Chicago-based CivicLab, which turns one year old next month, and its latest efforts to aid local activists.

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.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:18pm
Thu Mar 13, 2014

Chicagoans, Aldermen Clash On $55 Million TIF Subsidy For McCormick Place Hotel

The Chicago City Council last week agreed to allocate up to $55 million in tax increment financing (TIF) funds for the development of a new Marriott hotel adjacent to the McCormick Place convention center. Progress Illinois details some of what proponents and opponents have to say about the project.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
2:08pm
Fri Jul 19, 2013

Logan Square Residents Pledge To Keep The Heat On Chicago’s TIF Program

Activists at a Logan Square community meeting vowed to keep the attention on Chicago’s tax increment financing program (TIF) in light of harmful public school budget cuts and news of massive teacher layoffs Thursday night. 

Dozens of community members at the CivicLab’s Logan Square TIF meeting discussed ways to put more heat on city officials to declare a TIF surplus as a means to help plug the school district’s reported $1 billion budget deficit. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Raise Your Hand For Illinois Public Education, some elected officials and other local groups have been pushing the mayor to declare a surplus as a means to help financially stabilize the school district.  

“The city intentionally obscures how our property taxes are used to subsidize projects for private business. Our tax money is used to create private wealth,” said Marilena Marchetti, a Logan Square resident and CTU member. “Given the situation our school district is in, this makes no sense at all.”

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