Monday, May 24, 2010

TIF Equity

"On the other end of the spectrum are the three wards that encompass downtown Chicago. They shared roughly $626 million of that $1.5 billion, or 43 percent."

Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky,"The Shadow Budget: Who Wins in Daley's TIF Game," Chicago Reader, May 20, 2010

We're talking about tax increment financing (TIFs)that freezes taxes in so-called blighted districts for up to 24 years and allocates a portion of tax growth, if it occurs, into a kitty for local development and infrastructure.

"Between 2004 and 2008 it spent about $1.5 billion in property tax dollars on communities Mayor Daley and his aides designated as needing a shot in the arm."

No surprise that TIF dollars concentrated downtown--that's been true for almost every economic development incentive -- like Urban Development Action Grants. Is it blighted? Well. But there is also quite a concentration as well within the broader central area undergoing revitalization.

What's startling, or maybe not, is that large portions of the south side -- predominantly African American neighborhoods -- are left out. It's a good question as to whether TIFs spur growth or reward growth. If the latter, then poor, disinvested communities don't have much hope of generating much TIF interest, and thus keep on falling behind.

There's nothing like some light of day on public and private expenditures to generate questions and maybe even understanding. It took a Freedom of Information Act request to get this TIF data. Now, the public can more forcefully ask questions about equitable development and balanced growth.

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