Saturday, August 17, 2019 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: A screenshot of a TIF map included in the annual TIF revenue report released by Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough’s office.
Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts in Cook County will bring in nearly $1.2 billion for tax year 2018 — or 17 percent more than the year before — a report released last month by Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough’s office shows.
The 36 TIF districts in Proviso Township will bring in $22.3 million in 2018 — or around 6 percent more than the year before, the report shows.
Melrose Park, which has seven TIF districts, generated the most TIF revenue in the township in both 2017 and 2018 — when the districts earned $7.6 million and $7.4 million, respectively.
Brookfield experienced the highest year-over-year increase in TIF revenue among Proviso suburbs. The $553,238 its three TIFs earned in 2018 is 117 percent more than the $255,111 in revenue they generated in 2017.
Northlake experienced the steepest decline in TIF revenue among Proviso suburbs. In 2017, its only TIF — the North Ave/Wolf SW Commercial TIF district — generated close to $1 million. That TIF, however, was canceled in 2018, when the town generated no TIF revenue.
The TIF district in Proviso Township that generated the most revenue in 2018 was Maywood’s Madison Street/Fifth Avenue TIF. That TIF district earned $3.6 million in 2018 revenue, which is roughly what it earned in 2017.
The three largest TIF districts in Proviso Township, ranked by 2018 revenue, are as follows:
- Maywood | Madison Street/Fifth Avenue TIF | | $3.6 million
- Hillside | Mannheim | $2.7 million
- Melrose Park | Mid-Metro Industrial Area | $1.9 million
So, what is a TIF district? A 2018 article by City Lab explains how Tax Increment Financing works:
“When a city designates an area as a TIF district, the property value of all the real estate within its boundaries at that time is designated as the ‘base value.’ This is the amount that, for a set amount of years after the fact, generates revenue through the city’s property tax process. Everything over and above that, through an increase in value of existing real estate and new development in that time frame, goes into a separate fund earmarked for economic development.
“The city can then use this second pot of money to lure private investors with loans and subsidies for commercial projects, or to make public projects more attractive.Sometimes, private entities put money on a TIF district even before the revenue comes in, because they’re anticipating revenue from economic development. The overall idea behind TIF is: By creating these districts, cities can spark new private-public partnerships and new economic activity in a region that may not otherwise see it, and by doing that, widen its tax base. It’s economic development that, in a sense, pays for itself.”
The major problems with TIFs, City Lab explains, are that oftentimes they’re not very transparent and are often utilized in relatively wealthy areas that don’t need them as a tool to attract private investment.
For instance, some of the TIFs with the highest revenue in Cook County are located in well-to-do places like Chicago’s North Side and tony suburbs like Oak Park.
In her office’s annual TIF report, Clerk Yarbrough explained: “As a taxpayer and property owner, as well as an elected official who has to answer to the people of Cook County, I want to know where my tax dollars are going, if I live in a TIF District, and how this affects the distribution of tax revenue.”
Yarbrough added that she is “committed to ensuring that all Cook County’s taxpayers, be they Chicago or suburban property owners, have the information and tools available to see where TIFs are and how much revenue they generate.” VFP
To read the full TIF revenue report, click here.
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