Tom’s Suggestions To the New TIF Reform Panel

Here’s my first set of suggestions for the new Chicago TIF Review Panel:

 

 

Ms. Brown, I have received your letter and would like to take you up on your offer of making recommendations to the Panel:

I therefore suggest:

(1) For TIFs ALREADY in existence:

– Full disclosure of all expenditures for each TIF, by year

– Data base for all TIF fund recipients so we can, in one place, see who has received how much for what

– Show TIF revenues by year by WARD (this is currently unavailable)

– Online database for all documents pertaining to TIFs – the study that was used to create it, the internal planning review, the PowerPoint presentation show to the CDC, all financial reports relating to that TIF

–  independent review of existing TIFs – what are they doing? Especially after project that spawned TIF is completed

– mechanism to sunset TIFs that are no longer serving the public interest or which have been shown to be inactive, dysfunctional or corrupt.

(2) For TIFs proposed or to be created:

– a binding referendum of the precincts covered by a TIF BEFORE new TIF created – do the property

owners want it?

– independent study by academic center on economic reasons for the TIF – NOT by the consulting firm that makes millions from the TIF cottage industry

– all discussions of TIFs by city officials or electeds must be recorded and web cast and all transcripts should be put online in searchable form At present these transcripts are the PRIVATE PROPERTY of a commercial secretarial service – this is intolerable.

(3) All property tax bills for property in TIF districts should  disclose the amount of property tax from that property that has been captured by the relevant district or districts.

(4) In the interest of avoiding conflicts of interest, there should be a central database that is graphic, easy to manipulate and searchable that shows any connections between developers, aldermen, city officials and commissioners who vote on TIF approvals. The public is rightfully skeptical that the driving motivation behind the creation of TIFs is clout and self-interest, not sound public policy.

I work with and talk to a wide variety of nonprofits, community organizations and small business advocacy groups and there is some concern that this panel is weak in voices that speak for the taxpayer. I hope you will find a way to remedy this.

Tom Tresser
CivicLab

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