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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:28pm
Wed Dec 17, 2014

Chicago Mayoral, 24th Ward Candidates Court West Side Voters At Local Forum

Chicago mayoral and 24th Ward aldermanic hopefuls spoke to West Side residents at a Tuesday night candidate forum. Progress Illinois was there for the event.

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.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:30pm
Wed Nov 19, 2014

Chicago City Council Passes Emanuel's 2015 Budget; Four Aldermen Object

The Chicago City Council voted 46-4 to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2015 budget. Progress Illinois provides highlights from the council debate on the $7.3 billion spending plan.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:51pm
Wed Oct 15, 2014

Emanuel Delivers 2015 Budget Address; Fioretti Slams Mayor For 'Election Year Fluff'

Progress Illinois takes a look at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed 2015 budget, which was unveiled on Wednesday. 

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."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:36pm
Fri Apr 11, 2014

Report: TIFs Play A Role In Chicago's Pension Crisis

With the media and public spotlight on Chicago's pension crisis, the non-partisan research center Good Jobs First is turning the attention to the city's controversial tax increment financing, or TIF, program.

In its recent "Putting Municipal Pension Costs Into Context: Chicago" report, the Washington, D.C.-based group asserts that the TIF program has played a part in the underfunding of pensions in the city.

"It's really hard to ignore the evidence that TIF has had some sort of impact on pensions," said Tommy Cafcas, research analyst at Good Jobs First, which works to promote corporate and government accountability.

"We know that TIF costs grew, and they started growing really quickly after 2000. We know that general fund revenues declined ... and we know that the city addressed its budget gap in part by making inadequate contributions to public pensions, so it seems reasonable that TIF plays a role in how the city thinks about addressing the pension issue."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
3:34pm
Thu Mar 6, 2014

10th District Race: Candidates Sound Off On Elected Chicago School Board, TIF Reform

Three of the five candidates vying to unseat incumbent State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) in the crowded 10th District Illinois House race took part in a forum Wednesday night, discussing everything from education to TIFs. Progress Illinois was there for the discussion. 

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