What changes should be made in the city's use of tax increment financing? Would you support expansion or extension of TIF districts in your ward? How should excess TIF funds be spent? Do you support the $55 million allotment of TIF funds to buy land for a Marriott Hotel and DePaul basketball arena? Please explain.


I am committed to continuing the TIF reforms that were implemented during my first term in office. Soon after taking office, I launched the TIF Reform Task Force to provide me with recommendations for increasing transparency and accountability, improving performance, and strengthening oversight. Since the task force issued its report in August 2011, we have implemented many of the recommendation, First, we have eliminated unnecessary TIFs, reducing the number of TIF districts by 15 since taking office. Second, to promote increased transparency and accountability, we created a comprehensive online TIF database that tracks all projects in one place, provides public access to performance data and dashboard, and an online TIF Portal that provides an easy to navigate geography-based representation of TIF districts and project data. Using the TIF Portal, Chicagoans for first time can review TIF project data on a map; by address, project name, TIF district name, and or a ward number. Third, we now require every proposed private development TIF project to have an assessment report that will be posted online before City Council consideration and will outline the project's ability to create jobs and provide return on investment for the city. Finally, I established the city's first-ever TIF surplus policy through Executive Order to formalize and expand the practice of declaring a TIF surplus. The policy requires the declaration of a surplus in TIF districts that are older than three years, were not created for single redevelopment projects, are not transferring funds to other TIF districts to pay legacy school debt service costs, and have a balance of at least $1 million. The amount of the surplus is at least 25 percent of the available cash balance in the TIF, after accounting for current and future project commitments and contingencies, revenue volatilities, tax collection losses, and tax liabilities. Going forward, we will identify opportunities to deepen these reforms to ensure that taxpayer dollars are put to their highest and best use. I support the use of limited public funds to leverage significant private funds to further develop the McCormick Place Entertainment District. These investments, coupled with sweeping labor reforms three years ago and investment in infrastructure like the new CTA station at Cermak, have not only helped to revitalize our sagging convention industry but have reinvigorated the surrounding neighborhood.

TIFs are a valuable tool in funding specific construction or development projects and should continue to be used. The original design of TIFs in Chicago (for Block 37) envisioned the TIF district being shut down after the project was completed. TIFs became a problem when they changed from project specific funding tools to a mechanism for simply removing vast amounts of money from the tax base and sources of off-book funds for unspecified uses. Use of TIF revenues for specific projects which, in turn, increase property tax receipts is smart fiscal policy. However, using TIFs to hijack money from other revenue-strapped local governments is unfair and unwise. We need to keep those TIFs alive that are needed to complete projects or development initiatives (such as school construction) and terminate the remainder. We need to earmark more specific projects for TIF funding, such as support for new manufacturing and the development of affordable housing, which result in improving the City's economy and helping our residents live better and more productive lives. Absent such specific, and publically supported plans, excess TIF funds should be returned to the tax base. Regarding the DePaul Arena/Marriot Hotel TIF allotment, it is not clear why that project could not have additional private funding if it is such a good idea. All the financial analyses are not publicly available to justify why public funds are needed for the predominantly private projects. They should be disclosed and carefully reviewed.

As a new candidate I have to access the problem with my business expertise. I also believe in attracting businesses by lowering taxes

TIF Funds should only be used to facilitate the building of low-income housing, Grocery stores and community approved economic development projects in blighted areas.We must have greater transparency in the reporting of the amount of TIF Funds diverted from the secondary taxing bodies. TIF's should sunset as originally scheduled and ancillary taxing bodies should receive the funding needed to fulfill their core responsibilities. We must include the amount of funds directed to TIFs on Property tax bills and through regular publication and notification as requested by renters and various city residents. We must stop the practice of Porting TIF funds into neighboring TIF districts as a means of diverting funds from blighted communities into those which are not blighted. I am opposed to the use of TIF funds to build the DePaul Arena and the Marriott Hotel because the cost to the community outweigh the benefits. DePaul is a tax exempt institution. Very little tax increment will be realized from the development of an arena owned by such an institution.

The TIF program is broken. The use of $55 million to buy land for Mariott and the DePaul arena is the perfect example of this. Our central business district is hardly blighted. Yet, the Loop, Near North Side, Near South Side and Near West Side have taken nearly $1.56 billion of the $2.45 billion in TIF dollars spent from 2004 to 2008. Only $4.8 million was spent collectively in Pullman, Riverdale, Roseland and West Pullman, far South Side communities where blight is prevalent and economic development scarce. I've proposed resolutions to use our TIF money for its original purpose – creating economic development in areas that need it most - and was one of only three aldermen who voted no on DePaul. As Mayor, I would demand a full audit and accounting of Chicago's TIF fund and declare a surplus with the vast sum that is not committed to any specific projects or debt. That money, which is estimated to be between $1.4 and $1.7 billion, would then be used to reopen our mental health clinics, shore up some of the CPS budget, help guarantee our retirees their pensions, and create opportunities for small businesses and other anchors for our neighborhoods.