In 2011 Chicago had 163 TIF districts in Chicago, in which $454 million in property taxes were collected. are 280 TIF districts throughout the rest of Cook County that have collected $275 million in property taxes. That totals the grand sum of $729 million in property tax that may or may not benefit those TIF districts.
Tax Increment Financing districts were set up to help poor or blight areas to be graced with funds that can be channeled for improvements that will enhance the area and increase property values. The funds are to be used to encourage and fund private or public investment within the district. Investments include infrastructure improvements such as roads, utilities, sidewalks, sewers, etc., demolition and site preparation, property acquisitions, the marketing and setting of of new businesses in the area, building new public buildings, job skill training for workers in the area, and various other improvements that add real value to that district.
In Illinois, the number of TIF districts has grown to 1220. According to the Illinois State Comptroller’s Office, 530 TIF districts are out of compliance, as of the last state report of 914 2012, and have not filed the required annual reports. The transparency of TIF funds has been very limited, and has left the property owners from which these funds are obtained in the dark as to who and why are receiving these funds. Over the last few years, Illinois has imposed huge tax increases and deep cuts to public education, mass transit, public health, and other essential services; all with little or no input from property owners across the state.
With reports of the City of Chicago, using TIF funds as a slush fund and approving new districts, it is quite obvious that property owners in these districts need to be more involved to improve their deteriorating neighborhoods. Property owners in these districts need to call for more transparency by calling their legislators to include funding numbers on their property tax bills. TIF districts have a period of 23 years to meet its goal objectives, if these objectives are not met, the TIF district will be dissolved.