LET’S TALK TIFs! Tracking the Dollars…Residents Speak Up!
Chicago, Resident Matters will host a Community Meeting on the issue of TIF districts on Saturday, March 9th, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm , at Mt. Nebo Church, 354 West 71st (Stewart St.), Chicago. The guest speaker for the afternoon is Tom Tresser, co-founder of CivicLab, which is conducting an in-depth investigation of TIFs called the TIF Illumination Project.
Tom’s civic work is about encouraging civic engagement, grassroots economic development and government accountability. Tom’s most recent TIF Investigation entitled “The 12 TIFs of the 27th Ward” was unveiled at the TIF Town Meeting held on February 12 at the Chopin Theater, which was attended by over 220 people.
Ms. Beatrice Jasper, who was appointed as the TIF Representative (Public Member) of the 67th and Wentworth TIF is the Founder of Resident Matters. A suggestion to form an organization made by city commissioners during a public meeting, prompted Ms. Jasper to found Resident Matters as a means to engage the residents she represents within the TIF district. There are about 8,000 residents in the 67th and Wentworth TIF district. When any changes are made within the TIF district a vote is taken, that is when Ms. Jasper is called upon to represent the decisions of those residents.
This meeting is designed to inform the residents about the TIF’s throughout the city and how our city officials are managing or not managing their incremental gains. We will also discuss What TIF’s are, How do/should they work?, most importantly how the residents can participate in tracking our tax the dollars and holding our elected officials accountable.
Information and comments below were taken from the TIF Alliance group who held a successful Town Hall Meeting on February 12th with an attendance of over 220 people.
TIF’s were originally created to keep tax money within a “blighted” district and use it to redevelop that area. But since the introduction of TIF districts in Chicago in 1986, about half of the $4.5 billion extracted from general tax funds has gone to private development projects, many of them far from blighted communities. Major corporations receiving TIF funds include Hyatt, Target, Coca Cola, and United Airlines. That comes at the expense of Chicago Public Schools, libraries, parks, and other public assets.
In 2011 Chicago’s TIF program extracted $454 million in property taxes from 163 TIF districts. Thirty percent of the city is in a TIF district. “Last year, TIFs took about $250 million from CPS,” says Steve Serikaku, retired CPS teacher and activist. “That could have covered the costs of the new contract several times over. It could pay for more teachers, social workers, clinicians, and others who directly help children.”
- City of Chicago Receives “A” Grade for Transparency In City Spending(cityofchicago.org)