One of the most popular rooms at LaSalle’s Dimmick Elementary School is the library-turned-computer-lab-turned-classroom. Children jostle for elbow room and can’t use the library at all when class is in session.
Down the hall, the school counselor and speech pathologist share an office that used to be a janitor’s closet. The gymnasium serves as storage space for school files and records.
Supt. Ryan Linnig blames the tight quarters at least partly on an economic development tool that shifts local tax money to developers. He estimates Dimmick has lost out on more than $405,000 since 1994 — $75,000 of it last year– through a state-created program for local communities called tax increment financing, or TIF.
But that’s just his best guess. No one measures the total costs and benefits of Illinois’ 1,100 TIF districts, which the state began allowing two decades ago to help revitalize run-down neighborhoods.
If only there was a dedicated source of investigation into these programs. Someplace citizens and school superintendents could turn to to find out just how TIFs work and how much they take from local schools, parks, police and other government operations. Oh, wait – that’s OUR job at The TIF Report. If we get funded.