Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel this week announced a second series of tax-increment financing reforms aimed at improving the program’s transparency and accountability.
The measures were among those recommended by a task force Emanuel appointed last spring after he took office.
The city intends to create a TIF database that will track all TIF-assisted projects. The database, which will be accessible to the public, will be used to evaluate the value of projects.
Chicago also will now develop a special assessment report on projects available for public and City Council review before council approval.
The city also will move the monitoring of TIF performance to the Department of Revenue.
In addition, Chicago’s chief financial officer and comptroller will join a special internal TIF review task force that reviews all such deals.
The restructured TIF task force will be charged with ensuring the value of proposed TIF deals for the city at the beginning of the negotiating process, officials said.
“These critical reforms will strengthen the transparency and accountability involved in TIF projects, and will help the city focus the program on job creation and economic development,” Emanuel said in a statement.
The reforms are effective immediately and will be implemented over the course of the year.
Emanuel’s special task force last September recommended greater oversight of private subsidies in TIF districts and the development of a multi-year economic development plan to better judge the value of projects. The city implemented some of the reforms last year.
TIF was a favored economic tool of Emanuel’s predecessor, Richard Daley, but some critics charged they were overused in areas that didn’t meet traditional “blighted” criteria, resulting in the diversion of tax dollars from public schools and other taxing bodies.
Daley freed up $180 million in surplus TIF revenues to help balance the budgets of the city and Chicago Public Schools.