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

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
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.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
3:57pm
Wed Sep 25, 2013

Local Organizations Push For Increased Civic Engagement On National Voter Registration Day (VIDEO)

With the 2014 general election just 13 months away and voter registration numbers at an all-time low, hundreds of volunteers took to Chicagoland streets Tuesday to mark National Voter Registration Day in an effort to get as many new voters on the rolls as possible.

“Election after election, millions of voters aren’t able to vote because they miss voter registration deadlines or they didn’t know how to register,” said Rebecca Reynolds, 28, executive director of Chicago Votes. “This day is a day to try to make sure we leave no one out.”

Chicago Votes, a volunteer-run civic engagement advocacy group, served as Illinois’ lead organization on Tuesday’s national day of action to increase voter registration. More than 40 local groups, including the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, partnered with Chicago Votes to encourage residents to exercise their basic right to vote.

“Voter registration has hit an all-time low in the city of Chicago,” said Reynolds. “We’re trying to make voter registration easier, and more accessible to everybody.”

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 Ashlee Rezin
11:57am
Fri May 24, 2013

CTU Kicks Off Effort To 'Change The Political Landscape In Chicago' (VIDEO)

In the wake of the Chicago Board of Education’s vote to close 50 schools across the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) district, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) hosted deputy registrar training Thursday night in an effort to get more people to the voting booths next election cycle.

“Brothers and sisters, mayoral control is a disaster,” said Karen Lewis, president of the CTU. “We must change the political landscape in Chicago.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
7:24pm
Wed May 22, 2013

Education Activists Decry CPS Closings At Tense Board Of Ed Meeting (VIDEO)

The Chicago Board of Education has voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school in order to address the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) reported underutilization crisis. Progress Illinois was there for the tense and emotional meeting.

Quick Hit
by Matthew Blake
2:30pm
Mon Nov 5, 2012

New Polling Places Could Mean Confusion For Chicago Voters

The Chicago City Council’s remap of its 50 wards this year means new polling places for Chicago residents looking to cast their ballots tomorrow.

“It is going to be an issue for some of our voters who don’t check their polling places,” acknowledged Langdon Neal, chairman for the Chicago Board of Election at a press conference this morning. “If you do not follow the instructions and you don’t check your polling place, you cannot vote.”

Neal said that Chicago voters uncertain about where to vote tomorrow can call the Chicago Board of Elections at 312-269-7870 and “we can tell you where to go.”

Windy City voters may also text message their street address to 312-361-8846 to get their polling place. For example, the common address number then street format of 1234 W. 56th St. would produce a reply text with a polling place.

Neal gave these nitty-gritty logistics at a press conference intended to promote the success of early voting in Chicago and suburban Cook County. Neal and Cook County Clerk Orr say the percentage of registered voters who participated in early balloting this year set a new record.

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