A couple of weeks ago I provided an overview of how Chicago's TIFs work - or at least how they are supposed to work. At the time I was unable to find a source of information on exactly how the money was being spent. However, upon further investigation I did find it and the accounting is not nearly as opaque as I had thought.
The city is required to create an annual report for each TIF district. A complete list of these reports can be found here: TIF District Annual Reports (2017). However, you can also get to these from the individual TIF Web pages like this one for the Near North TIF, which covers the redevelopment of the former Cabrini Green complex. I like these individual Web pages better as a starting point because they contain links to other useful information like the redevelopment plan. The only problem is that the only way I can figure out how to get to these overview pages is by searching for them.
Anyway, the annual reports contain some useful detailed information on where the money goes, both in terms of what the money was used for and also who got the money. So if we look at the Near North TIF annual report we see that they spent a total of $11.8 MM in 2017, $5.9 MM of which went to the construction of low income housing (money likely went to the developer), $3.6 MM of which went to the construction of public works, and $1.6 MM was surplus funds that got redistributed to the taxing agencies. If you look closely you will see that the Chicago Board of Education received $2.7 MM of the total expenditures already accounted for above (yeah, that's a little confusing but it's classified as "development").
I know this is only a sample size of 1 but does anyone have a problem with the way this money is being spent? You can comment below.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service real estate brokerage that offers home buyer rebates and discount commissions. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market or get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.