The Chicago Infrastructure Trust board last week approved bylaws that open up its activities and books to the city’s inspector general.
Some City Council members had pushed for greater council oversight of the board and had wanted its operations to clearly fall under the purview of city inspector general Joseph Ferguson.
Those provisions were not included in the legislation approved by the council earlier this year that established the trust.
At the board’s second meeting last week it approved bylaws that include a provision requiring trust officials and employees to cooperate with the inspector general in any investigation or review the office opts to conduct, including a probe of their performance.
One of the board’s members, David Hoffman, is a former city inspector general. While in office, he released a critical review of Chicago’s $1.15 billion parking meter lease.
Anger over the 2009 parking lease’s quick approval, mishandling of the privatization, rising rates, and the use of proceeds to balance city budgets drove concerns over how the Infrastructure Trust would operate.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled plans for the trust earlier this year to create an alternative financing vehicle to leverage private investment for special projects with defined revenue streams that attract investors.
The board’s initial funding comes from a $2 million grant from the city. The administration contends it’s needed to offset dwindling state and federal funds.
The board’s first financing, dubbed Retrofit Chicago, will seek $200 million in financing for energy upgrades to facilities owned by the city and its sister agencies. The savings, estimated at $20 million annually, would repay private investors. Additional details will be submitted to the board later this year.
Chicago has nonbinding agreements from Citibank NA, Citi Infrastructure Investors, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets Inc., JPMorgan Asset Management Infrastructure Group and Ullico to eye investing up to $1.7 billion in trust projects.