City Hall’s New TIF Troubles

This story is actually from early April:

According to a report issued today by Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson, a fluke of state law means that many neighboring business districts that collect an extra property tax to pay for security, advertising and the like actually have had to pay twice — once for security, et al., and once to the TIF.

The report specifically deals with Special Service Areas: little neighborhood shopping districts such as Lincoln/Belmont/Ashland, South Shore, Greektown and Wicker Park/Bucktown in which the shop owners agree to impose an extra tax on themselves to pay for things of mutual interest. …

The problem is that 80 percent of the city’s more than 60 SSAs also overlap wholly or partially with TIF districts.

The way a TIF district works is that property taxes are frozen at a current level, with the TIF getting the growth over the next 23 years — known as increment — to spend on TIF projects. But when an SSA levies an additional tax for its needs, the amount of the levy is imposed both on the old base levy and the increment.

In other words, to help themselves, merchants have to pay twice. And that’s amounted to an extra $7.5 million to TIFs last year and about $7 million in preceding years, according to Mr. Ferguson.

via Crain’s Chicago Business.

Man I really hate TIFs.