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New Report on TIFs Reveals Large Funds

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$83 million in new property taxes may seem like a lot to Chicagoans. But that’s nothing compared to how much is going to tax increment financing districts. Last year, more than $500 million in property taxes went to the city’s TIF’s.

The numbers come from an annual report by Cook County Clerk David Orr. It says in the whole county, more than $800 million in property taxes went to TIFs. TIFs are supposed to help pay for economic development in depressed areas. The problem is, according to Orr, the public doesn’t know where all that money goes. Orr says TIFs have done some good, like helping fund Millennium Park.

ORR: But I think there’s probably other TIFs that are being abused. You know, we’re building lots of TIF’s in fairly well off areas, and the real question is, how is all that $800 million being spent? Does the public understand how it’s being spent?

TIF’s currently aren’t included in budgets for cities. Orr says they should be, just like any other city department.

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