TIF’s Lurking in The Shadow Budget
On October 15, Mayor Richard M. Daley held a press conference to break some bad news: To erase a $500 million budget deficit for next year, he would probably have to eliminate jobs, cut services, and dip into reserve funds generated by leasing the Skyway and the parking meters.
But behind the scenes, the mayor and his chief aides were proposing to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a rehab of Willis Tower, subsidies for privately run hospitals and Fortune 500 corporations, and pet neighborhood projects that won’t be included in the official city budget.
We recently came into possession of hard evidence of what we’ve long argued: that the city produces two annual budgets, one released to the public, covered by the media, and debated by the City Council, and the other forged behind closed doors by the Daley administration, shared only in pieces with certain aldermen, and never fully disclosed to citizens. Both budgets are funded by taxpayers.
For the last few years, we’ve been trying to force the city to open up that shadow budget, which is funded by property taxes diverted into Chicago’s tax increment financing program. As regular readers know, the TIF program is a complicated system in which property tax dollars in designated districts are collected in special accounts that are supposed to be used to eradicate blight and bolster development where it might not otherwise come. (See our archive of TIF coverage.)
Read more at The Chicago Reader