Monday, May 6, 2013

Progress IL: Englewood Residents Question TIF Program, Call For More Community Mobilization At Town Hall Meeting

You might have seen an image such as the one to the left on our FB page recently. On Saturday, the Resident Association of Greater Englewood hosted a town hall meeting on Englewood area tax increment financing (TIF) districts. Progress Illinois covered this event:
Property taxpayers in Englewood were furious upon learning at a town hall meeting Saturday that their tax dollars had contributed at least $44 million to the Englewood Neighborhood Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District since it rolled out in 2001. According to data from the CivicLab's TIF Illumination Project, some $44 million of taxpayer dollars had funneled to the TIF district between 2001 and 2011.

In 2011 alone, the TIF district siphoned $5 million from property taxpayers in the area, which would have normally gone to local units of government such as schools and parks, according to the CivicLab.

“The original concept is that (TIFs are) designed to have an impact on blighted areas, and just looking out the window, we know that a blighted area is all around us,” CivicLab's Bill Drew said at the TIF discussion, held at the Chicago Public Library's Hiram Kelly Branch.

Members of the volunteer-based TIF Illumination Project are traveling across the city in order to promote TIF transparency at the ward level.

There are 163 TIF districts across Chicago and an additional 280 in suburban Cook County.
A little more than $24 million was left sitting in the bank account of the Englewood Neighborhood TIF district at the end of 2011, according to the CivicLab’s analysis.

And that news didn’t sit well with some of the residents.

“We need an attorney,” said Etta Davis, a 50-year Englewood resident. “We know we are being had. We’re being messed over. We are being stolen from.”

Some Englewood homeowners who live in the district did receive some TIF money as part of the Neighborhood Improvement Program to make repairs to their homes, according to the CivicLab’s analysis.

But overall, TIF money was spent on little, if any, commercial developments within the district since its creation, the CivicLab found.
It seems as if the controversy over TIFs aren't going away and this article is well worth your time.

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