Chicagoans wondering why Mayor Rahm Emanuel won’t quit his tax increment financing (TIF) plan may soon be able to connect the dots at to why he believes it is so important for the city:
Released July 20 by Cook County Clerk David Orr, the annual TIF audit shows the program, spanning 145 districts, will bring in $561 million this tax year – a new record and roughly $100 million more than last tax year, according to Chicago Reader.
A day later, on July 21, the Better Government Association and Crain, a business publication, released an investigation into some of the South Loop TIF districts, found the mayor is without constraints to distribute the money however and wherever he wants in the city.
Since the TIF is funded by surcharges added to residents’ property tax bill, the money is diverted to bank accounts controlled largely by the Mayor, rather than going directly to schools, police or some of the other things in need of funding in Chicago.
In the South Loop, for example, Mayor Emanuel swore he was spending $55 million from TIFs on the arena/hotel project, but the investigation revealed the money was actually put into renovating Navy Pier.
Despite conflicting receipts and TIF dollars’ intended purpose to subsidize developments in needy neighborhoods, officials from Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority maintain “no TIF funds were diverted to Navy Pier.”
The investigation continues to prove otherwise.
As a result of these new findings, several aldermen and activists, as well as many Chicagoans, are outraged by the thought of the Mayor wasting their money.
Emanuel continues to berate city officials with questions and demands the money be returned for use in something the city actually needs.