At the end of 2011, Chicago's 163 tax increment financing (TIF) accounts had $1.7 billion in property taxes sitting in them. We, the residents of Chicago, demand a full accounting of these funds.
The city has showered public dollars on such large companies as Sears, Kmart, Target, Hyatt Hotels, Home Depot, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Coca-Cola, UPS, the company that bought the Sears Tower, and even Wal-Mart, the world's largest corporation. Hundreds of millions of our dollars have been given to major downtown developers with no strings attached.
If these companies want to do business in Chicago, let them purchase sites and build their facilities using THEIR dollars, not ours. Public dollars should be used ONLY to enhance the PUBLIC sector.
Every dollar of our property taxes that goes to a Kmart, a Wal-Mart, or a Coca-Cola is ONE LESS dollar that gets distributed to our public schools, the CTA, the public library, the Chicago Park District, or Cook County. Since 1986, TIFs have extracted over $5 BILLION in property taxes. As far as we can tell, well over 50% of that money was given to private companies with no strings attached.
In the light of school closings, cuts in public transit service, closing of vital public health facilities, the shuttering of public housing, and the scaling back of city services on every front, we demand a stop to the use of our property taxes to enrich private businesses—to essentially bribe them to do what they're supposed to do: take risks, make investments, and reap profits if they supply a needed service.
We want all TIF dollars currently sitting in TIF balance accounts to be released to the local units of government that SHOULD HAVE received those dollars in the first place.