Emanuel critiques past use of tax increment financing districts

May 19, 2011

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(WBEZ/Tony Arnold)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks to reporters Thursday about tax increment financing districts

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had some sharp words Thursday for the way former Mayor Richard Daley used money meant for economic development.

Emanuel said tax increment financing districts, better known as TIFs,  are an important economic tool for Chicago's neighborhoods. TIF districts combine property tax collections from certain areas of the city and are meant to be directed to blighted neighborhoods. But they got a reputation for having little oversight and helping grow the Loop under Daley.

Emanuel never mentioned Daley by name, but he said that over the past 20 years TIFs looked like they were hidden behind a curtain of secrecy.

"I believe TIFs are an affirmative instrument in creating neighborhood economic growth and job creation," Emanuel said at a news conference. "Over the years, it's mutated, it's become maligned, it's become attacked for - as a political instrument."

Emanuel named a panel to develop standards by which TIFs are measured and pledged more transparency in the process.