Abolish TIFs Now!
By Jim Vail
They say there are hundreds of millions of tax dollars sitting right now in a slush fund for the mayor to use at his whim.
At a time when the city is closing schools, mental health clinics and selling off vital city interests like the parking meters because it's supposedly broke, this is outrageous.
So the unions and grassroots organizations are calling on the city council to send a letter to our aldermen and the council rules chair Ald. Michelle Harris, to demand this money be put back into city services such as the schools, parks and libraries.
But these Tax Increment Financing dollars, which were hilariously set aside to spur development in "blighted areas" are merely used to subsidize corporations and developers and other politically connected operators in the city.
The mayor says schools in low-income neighborhoods need to be closed because there is no money, but a new stadium for a private Catholic university and luxury hotel can be built. Go figure!
This is all part of a scam that the mayor says the city can't part with because some TIF money still goes to the schools and other city services. Sure it does, after its siphoned a decent amount to wealthier magnet schools at the expense of the other schools.
They say the TIF surplus ordinance would direct hundreds of millions of dollars back into the neighborhoods, the schools and benefit all of Chicago, yet Ald. Harris and the other mayoral allies keep the ordinance stuck in the rules committee.
What really needs to be done is to start a campaign to eliminate TIFs completely. The program is a bust. During these hard times what justifies taking tax payer dollars to hold in reserves and dole out to developers? Nothing! Only pure corruption.
I believe Oak Park saw how the TIF program was draining its public schools, and so they eliminated it.
Chicago should do the same.
No more TIFs!