David Orr Calls for TIF Moratorium (Again)

In a recent op-ed piece for The Huffington Post, Cook County Clerk David Orr repeated his call for a moratorium on new TIF districts in Chicago. Here’s part of what he said:

“We must enter a new era. For too long, TIFs were used as corporate subsidies, disproportionately benefiting the few at the expense of the many. And because the expenditures were a foregone conclusion, there were vague budgets, little transparency and even less accountability.

With so many voices crying out for change, where should we start? Since 1986, more than $4 billion has been collected from all TIFs in Chicago. There are over 158 active TIFs in the city. Such a vast system must be scrutinized systematically. That is why, when I called for a moratorium in Chicago, I laid out a specific set of goals and steps relevant to both old and new TIF districts.

  • First, there must be a review of existing TIF districts to ensure that all surpluses are distributed.
  • We must require future TIFs to have itemized project goals.
  • Development plans should be itemized rather than written with vague generalities, letting observers track expenditures. Otherwise it is impossible to know whether or not a project is complete and therefore if a surplus can be returned to the taxing bodies.
  • We must reform the TIF budget processes to include TIF revenues and expenditures and continue TIF transparency efforts.

And finally, TIF districts must not be treated as separate fiefdoms somehow divorced from municipal budgetary discussions. When political leaders were crying poor in recent years, the City of Chicago’s TIF districts were awash in a half billion dollars in cash.”

I hope the new mayor and City Council members are tuned in to David’s channel. We here at The TIF Report are mot waiting for reform. Help us investigate and expose TIF abuse now!

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