Quick Hit Adam Doster Friday October 8th, 2010, 1:02pm

What About The Other $500 Million, Mr. Mayor?

That the Daley administration is even considering plugging a portion of Chicago's budget hole using tax increment financing (TIF) money is a watershed moment in city politics. The mayor has safeguarded those taxpayer funds with his life, draining revenue from other local taxing bodies to keep aldermen in line and developers happy.

But Daley's reported short-term budget fix, declaring as "surplus" $200 million of the TIF pot, begs an obvious question: What about the rest of the TIF money? It's important to keep in mind that there is roughly $700 million in the TIF piggy bank that isn't already earmarked for projects. In practical terms, that means the city has siphoned off nearly three-quarters of a billion more tax revenue than it can spend on "public improvement" projects. If City Hall would return the other $500 million that's collecting dust, another $100 million would be accessible to cover operating costs this year (and potentially save those 280 jobs). The city could also pass along $400 million to CPS, the park district, and other cash-strapped agencies. It's really a no-brainer.

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