TIFs are the primary economic development tool of the city. In a TIF district, taxes from the growth in property values are set aside for 23 years to be used for public projects and private development. Do you support increasing the annual TIF surplus that the mayor and the City Council have declared in each of the last few years, money that goes to the schools and other city agencies? Yes or No? What reforms would you propose for the city's TIF program?

Budget

Yes. Unfortunately, the TIF program, because of obvious abuses, has come to be thought of as a "slush fund" for insiders by many Chicagoans. The TIF program should be considered as an engine for the development and expansion of such programs. TIF funds should also be distributed equally among all communities-we must grow all of our neighborhoods.
The TIF program needs to be reined in and become a more transparent pool that is used as a development tool for all of Chicago's neighborhoods, not just downtown the South Loop, DePaul and a few others. I am specifically weary of these funds being used as inducements to large corporations to stay or relocate.
I believe in economic empowerment and stimulating the growth of communities through strong, new business opportunities. I propose to take city owned empty lots, vacant buildings and potentially other, larger buildings and sell them to members of communities and people who want to start new business, for one dollar, as we have strong historical precedent for.

Tax Increment Financing (Commonly referred to as “TIF”) is a program governed by state law which authorizes municipalities to capture property tax revenues derived from the incremental equalized assessed value (EAV) above the base EAV that existed at the time the area was designated a TIF district. The derivative money is to be used for
community projects, public improvements, and incentives to attract private investments to the area. I support the use of TIF Funds to facilitate the building of low-income housing,
Grocery stores and community approved economic development projects in
blighted areas. i support measures to provide greater transparency in the
reporting of the amount of TIF Funds diverted from the secondary taxing bodies. 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.
TIF's should sunset as originally scheduled and ancillary taxing bodies should
receive the funding needed to fulfill their core responsibilities. 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.

Yes First, I will put an immediate moratorium on any new TIFs. This will allow us time to conduct a complete audit to find out exactly where our money has gone and what the benefits are. This audit should be done by a completely independent body and be made public, giving independent experts, media and the people of Chicago the ability to weigh in on the best uses of this money.
Independent research has shown millions in unaccounted for funds, and the Department of Planning has not answered demands to account for these dollars. I will completely overhaul the TIF Data Portal to create true transparency in regards to the TIF program.
Third, I will declare a TIF surplus with the vast sum that is not committed to any specific projects or debt. That money could then be used to reopen our mental health clinics, shore up some of our school budgets, make a payment into our beleaguered pension fund, turn some of the closed schools into community centers that drive economic development and begin meaningful neighborhood economic development programs.

Yes TIFs are a valuable tool in funding specific construction or development projects and should continue to be used. However, the original design of TIFs in Chicago envisioned the TIF district being used to support development in areas where such development would not otherwise occur within a reasonable timeframe, and being shut down after the main projects in the district were completed. TIFs became a problem when they started being used to support developments that were commercially viable without the TIF. To the extent that this continues to occur, the City, our schools and parks, are being denied important sources of revenue.
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 planned 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. I would support TIF Advisory Councils in the neighborhoods to help make these determinations. Returning TIF funds to the property tax base of the schools and other taxing bodies would reduce the property tax rate, which would reduce the burden on individual taxpayers.

I support a consistent, transparent TIF surplus strategy that is based on the needs of each community and does not fluctuate based on the whims of elected officials in a specific fiscal year. That’s why 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 must be 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.
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 noted above.
Going forward, we will identify opportunities to deepen these reforms to ensure that taxpayer dollars are put to their highest and best use.