Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

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:  

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


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

  Cook County was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.

In Chicago, TIF Revenues Soaring

Wednesday, July 31, 2019
by Paris Schutz

The city of Chicago could be in line for a giant windfall of tax revenue, just in time to face down a $700 million budget gap.

A new report from the county clerk’s office could be manna from the sky. But some observers say if it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

Chicago took in $841 million in tax increment financing, or TIF, revenue in 2018, according to a new analysis by the office of Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough.

That’s about $180 million more than the previous year. Reassessed property values have meant higher tax assessments for wealthier homeowners, and, in turn, more money for TIF funds.

Tax increment financing is a controversial, often misunderstood economic tool the city has at its disposal. Here’s how it works: The city designates a TIF district and then freezes all of the property tax revenues within that district for 23 years. Any incremental increase in property values or new construction (which results in new taxes) goes into the TIF fund. The collected money is designated for public or economic development projects. It’s been described in the past as a slush fund controlled by the mayor.

Yarbrough’s comprehensive analysis of the city and county’s TIFs was released Wednesday.

Document: Read the reportDocument: Read the report “It’s the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Yarbrough said. “I think they use it like a piggy bank, in that they know the money’s there, and they may use it for any number of things. Those of you that live in or near a TIF, you should pay attention to your village mothers and fathers as to how the money’s being used.”

Some of the TIF revenue collected last year could go toward the city’s budget gap. The city can declare a TIF surplus, meaning it has more money in those funds than it needs. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared a surplus most years. The rub is that money has to be returned to all of the county taxing bodes and only a portion of that goes to the city.

“It’s in the tens of millions of dollars for city budget through the surplus method,” said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. “Closing the TIFs would be potentially hundreds of millions, but you’d have to look to see that work in TIFs that are set to expire is done and you don’t need that revenue for other purposes.”

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and many progressive aldermen campaigned on severely curtailing TIFs – if not getting rid of them altogether.

In fact, one activist from the nonprofit Civic Lab has been campaigning for years to get rid of TIFs, saying they steal money that could go toward blighted neighborhoods.

“For those folks in struggling communities like Lawndale, and places that have been suffering, TIFs will never help you,” said Tom Tresser, who wrote a book called “Chicago is Not Broke.” “They handcuff the money where there’s already prosperity.”

The city’s richest TIF district is on the North Side, a transit TIF signed into law by Emanuel three years ago exclusively for construction work on the CTA’s Red and Purple lines. It has brought in $115 million, but half of that is going to Chicago Public Schools – that’s money the school system is getting above and beyond the property tax levy.

Meanwhile suburban Cook County saw $339 million in TIF revenue – that’s a decrease from the year before.

And finally: two giant new city TIFs districts just went online, one for Lincoln Yards, and one for the 78 in the South loop that could be worth more than $2 billion.

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

Related stories:

City Analysis: Pension Debt Grew Last Year

Recent Headlines

Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli on Gun Violence, Police Database.
Monday, August 26, 2019

Assessor: Homes values, sale prices up in Schaumburg Township
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Daily Herald

Home improvement grant designed to get the lead out
Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Cook County census panel seeks outreach help for hard-to-count communities
Monday, August 19, 2019

Cook County Land Bank Authority Announces Opening of Registration to Give Away a Free Home
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
The Chicago Crusader

Friday, August 09, 2019
Illinois Policy

America’s most interesting sheriff
Friday, August 09, 2019

Top Cook County Jail chess players take on the world
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Public defender takes shots at Chicago Police gun offender webpage
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Commentary: Data alone won’t stop Chicago gun violence; Cook County needs a public ‘Violence Reduction Dashboard’
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail detainees take on inmates around the world in online chess tournament
Tuesday, August 06, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Ongoing Bail Debate In Chicago
Monday, August 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Jail hosts international chess tournament
Monday, August 05, 2019
WGN Chicago

Cook County property taxes are due today, Aug. 1.
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Special to

Forest Preserves of Cook County Celebrate Dan Ryan Woods Investments
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Defender

Cook County TIFs generate $1.2 billion
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Changes coming to Cook County assessor’s office
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

In Chicago, TIF Revenues Soaring
Wednesday, July 31, 2019

A controversial tax subsidy program will generate a record $1.2 billion in revenue. Here’s what the number means for Chicago.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Group to rally in support of Kim Foxx as challengers emerge
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

all news items

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