Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Cook County Property Tax Bills To Provide More TIF Transparency, But More Changes Are Needed

Friday, July 12, 2013
Progress Illinois
by Ellyn Fortino

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.”

Under Chicago’s controversial TIF program, which began in 1986 and was greatly expanded by the city's former mayor Richard M. Daley, the city sets up tax increment finance districts in areas that are considered blighted. TIF critics, however, say the term blighted has been used too loosely, as TIF districts have been set up in both the Loop and downtown areas. The LaSalle Central and Canal/Congress TIF districts located downtown, for example, were among the largest districts by revenue in 2012, according to the report. They both individually took in about $20 million.

For those living in a TIF district, a portion of their property tax dollars gets diverted from local units of government, including the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Instead, the money is funneled into the TIF district’s fund. The amount that property owners pay into their TIF district varies because it’s based on the difference between what they currently pay in taxes and what they paid when the TIF district was first created. TIF districts typically have a life cycle of 23 years.

Since its inception through 2012, the city’s TIF program has collected $5.5 billion in tax revenue.

In return, companies receive public subsidies for economic development projects, like a shopping center, that will supposedly generate future property taxes inside the TIF districts. But TIF money has also been used for school building construction and other public-sector and non-profit projects.

The program is also controversial because the city has doled out millions of dollars for projects downtown, while some truly blighted areas have seen few benefits. TIF critics have also called into question the city’s practice of handing fat subsidies to big companies, including Walmart and the Hyatt Hotels, among many other major corporations.

Tresser said he predicts Cook County residents will be quite angry and have a lot of questions once they see exactly how many dollars are being siphoned away from their schools and other public services and sent to the city and suburban TIF programs. The phone lines at the county, city and aldermanic levels will “melt” the day after residents receive their bills, he said.

Chicago’s TIF piggybank is also filling back up after two years of TIF revenue decline, the 2012 report showed. The city of Chicago stands to collect $457 million in TIF revenue for the 2012 tax year, which is $3.3 million more than in 2011. In 2011, Chicago hauled in $454 million in tax revenue, which was down 11 percent compared to $510 million in 2010.

Tresser added that the slight increase points to an improvement in the city’s general economy and an increase in property values.  

The suburban TIF revenue, on the other hand, dropped from $275 million in 2011 to $266 million in 2012.

During a press conference Thursday morning, Orr said Chicago is making some TIF “headway” because it cancelled nine TIF districts and did not create any new ones in 2012. There were a total of 154 active districts in 2012.

Three years ago, Orr called for a moratorium on all new Chicago TIF districts as a means to allow the new administration to review the issues surrounding the program and provide more transparency. 

“I am please that the stampede has slowed down,” Orr said.

But even though the TIF program's expansion has recently slowed, the city of Chicago has still hauled in nearly $1 billion for the 2011 and 2012 tax years.

On Thursday, Orr said he wants the mayor and city council to declare a TIF surplus to temporarily help plug the Chicago Public Schools district’s budget deficit.

CPS says it is facing a $1 billion budget deficit, and, as a result, schools are seeing severe funding cuts for next year in addition to the district's massive round of closings. In May, the Chicago Board of Education approved the shut down of 50 neighborhood schools, 48 of which closed for good last month, due, according to the district, to CPS' budget deficit and reported underutilization crisis.

“How do we explain to school kids that gym, music and art classes are cancelled while profitable businesses are tapping into the city’s tax base?” Orr said in a statement. “TIFs may have helped make downtown Chicago beautiful, but not enough is being done with TIF funds in the neighborhoods where they are needed most.”

In the last five years, Chicago has returned $182 million in TIF surplus to CPS, including $10.5 million last year, Orr said. He added that the city should be able to return more TIF money this summer to help ease the district’s budget woes, although he did not provide a specific dollar amount when questioned at Thursday's news conference. Some city aldermen, the Chicago Teachers Union and other education activists have also been making a push for the declaration of a TIF surplus.

In addition, Tresser, along with other TIF activists, want to know exactly how the city has spent, or plans to spend, that $5.5 billion it has collected since 1986. So does Orr.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel created a TIF taskforce that provided recommendations two years ago on how to make the program more transparent and effective. Orr said more TIF information has been put online for the public, but there is still a long way to go when it comes to transparency and judgment on how to use TIF money.

“There is a lot of room for improvement in accountability and equity, especially when so many taxpayer dollars are diverted into the Loop,” he said in a statement.

Orr called for a comprehensive report on all Chicago TIF districts that clearly shows how much of the $5.5 billion has been spent and earmarked. The county clerk says the report should also highlight the distribution of TIF dollars by project type, including schools, parks, infrastructure and commercial, among others.

In suburban Cook County, there were 281 active TIF districts in 2012 that are also in need of more scrutiny, he said. There's at least one TIF district in 69 percent of suburban villages and cities, according to the report.

“The need for greater transparency and accountability is just as vital in the suburbs as it is in the city,” Orr said.

Tresser applauded Orr's call for more transparency in Chicago. But, he says, Emanuel does not have to listen to the clerk's recommendations.

“The mayor can say, ‘Thank you for your input, Mr. County Clerk. Go count your chickens,’” Tresser said. “If David wants to do this, he should run for mayor in 2015, and then it will be his department (and) he can tell it to do what he wants it to do.”



Recent Headlines

Preckwinkle counters IG report on Cook hospitals, says system continues 'to reform and modernize'
Thursday, May 17, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Clerk Brown, vendors discuss e-filing users’ first steps in Cook County
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wilmette to reconsider adopting Cook County minimum wage, sick time laws next month
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Bill to keep pregnant women out of jail while they await trial reaches governor's desk
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Chicago Tribune

2018 ASIAN AMERICAN PACIFIC ISLANDER HERITAGE MONTH OBSERVANCE MAY 01 – MAY 31, 2018
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Inspector general: Cook County hospitals lost roughly $165 million due to widespread errors
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Chicago Tribune

3 Cook County police vehicles damaged in Oak Forest crashes
Sunday, May 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Seattle Soda Tax Revenue Is Exceeding Projections
Friday, May 11, 2018
Governing Magazin

Facebook: Cook County data mining lawsuit designed to benefit only county government, its hired lawyers
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Cook County Record

Cutting court interpreters threatens due process rights, even victim safety, union says
Thursday, May 10, 2018
Chicago Reader

Assessor’s Office new residential property assessment model unveiled for Tax Year 2018 reassessment
Wednesday, May 02, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

CEDA scholarships
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

County’s ‘Scavenger’ Sale To Boost Blighted Neighborhoods
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
WBEZ Public Radio

Cook County selling nearly 3,200 vacant lots to encourage redevelopment
Tuesday, May 01, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County property owners with past-due tax bills could face steeper payments after Friday
Monday, April 30, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook Sheriff: Backpage, attorneys owe Cook County for 'hoax' suit over sheriff's credit card squeeze
Friday, April 27, 2018
Cook County Record

Two Cook County branch courthouses could close in budget cuts that followed pop tax repeal
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Western Springs Board votes to follow county ordinance, raising minimum wage to $11 this year
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Pioneer Press

Mother files complaint, says while she was at Daley Center for jury duty, staff sent her to men’s room to pump breast milk
Monday, April 23, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Challenge to filing fee has some worth
Monday, April 16, 2018
Chicago Daily law Bulletin

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP