Chicago TIF Portal graphic.

The Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Districts located on the West Side of Chicago generated a total of $73.1 million — an almost $900,000 increase compared to last year.

The numbers were obtained from Cook County Clerk David Orr’s annual TIF report, released in July. The report looked at all the TIFs currently active in Chicago and suburban Cook County, detailing how much revenue they generated in 2014 and how that compared revenue to 2014 totals. Overall, Chicago TIFs generated $371.8 million in revenue, which is a nearly $50.3 million decrease compared to last year.

The Office of Cook County Clerk also looked at how much money Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and other taxing bodies would be able to get over the next 10 years as many TIFs expire. The report estimates that CPS would gain $160 million, while other taxing bodies would get a total of $136 million. Although this would help the city’s finances, it wouldn’t be enough to make a significant dent in the current deficits.

When a TIF district is created, the amount of money CPS and other taxing bodies collect from property taxes within its borders is frozen. When the taxes are increased, the extra amount that would normally go to the taxing bodies is deposited into a TIF fund. TIFs normally last for 23 years, but they can be extended. Once they expire, the amount that gets collected in taxes returns to normal.

According to Orr’s report, 92 of the city’s TIFs experienced revenue increases, 38 experienced revenue declines and 25 didn’t generate any revenues at all. The report indicated that most of the overall decrease was due to the City of Chicago’s decision to close Near South TIF. The city closed a total of seven TIFs and created two more — two on the South Side and one on the Northwest Side.

There are a total of 15 TIFs that are located either partially or wholly within at least one West Side neighborhood. According to Orr’s report, two of those TIFs — the Harrison/Central and Ogden/Pulaski TIF — haven’t generated any TIF revenue at all for the last two years.

The Kinzie Industrial Corridor TIF, which stretches across East Garfield Park and neighborhoods to the east of it. It generated more revenue than any other West Side TIF, generating $19,301,642.53 — a 3.45 percent increase compared to last year. Orr’s report indicates that it was the third-highest revenue generator among Chicago TIFs, behind only the Canal/Congress TIF, which is located on the Near West Side, and the Chicago/Kingsbury TIF, which is located on the Near North Side area around the former site of the Cabrini-Green public housing development. Unless renewed, the Kinzie Conservation Corridor TIF will expire in 2021.

Central West TIF, which is located south of the Kinzie TIF, is the next-highest revenue generator, earning $14,721,487.26 — a 0.57 percent decrease compared to 2013. The TIF largely stretches across the western edges of the Near West Side, including the former site of the Henry Horner Homes public housing development and the more gentrified West Loop. The TIF is scheduled to expire in 2024.

Midwest TIF is the third-highest revenue generator, earning $13,318,561.27 — a 0.64 percent increase compared to 2013. The TIF stretches across most of East Garfield Park and North Lawndale. Like Central West TIF, it’s scheduled to expire in 2024.

The largest jump in revenue came from Armitage/Pulaski TIF, which is located in West Humboldt Park and spans a section of Armitage Avenue between Harding and Kenneth avenues, and a few blocks north and south of the Armitage/Pulaski intersection. In 2014, it generated $3,641.75 — a 17.09 percent increase compared to 2013. The TIF will expire in 2031.

The second largest increase in revenue is Austin Commercial TIF. As the name implies, it stretches along some of Austin’s busiest corridors, including North Avenue, Division Street, Chicago Avenue and Central Avenue. The TIF generated $619,059.54 — a 10.56 percent increase compared to last year. It expires in 2031.

The West Side TIF that saw the biggest drop is located in the industrial section of Galewood, an area surrounding Milwaukee District West Line railroad tracks. The Galewood/Armitage TIF generated $2,622,675.9 — a 20.31 percent drop compared to 2013. The TIF is scheduled to expire in 2022.

Unless renewed, 10 out of the 15 West Side TIFs will expire before 2015. According to Orr’s report, a total of 71 Chicago TIFs will expire by that point. That would bring in a total of $296 million in revenue for all taxing bodies, a conservative estimate. The taxing bodies won’t get most of that money until 2019.

While the money would help the City of Chicago, CPS and other taxing bodies, it would not be nearly enough to fill the current deficits. As of July 31, Chicago was facing a $232.6 million budget shortfall, while CPS’ current budget relies on $500 million in state funding — an amount that hasn’t been approved.

In a press release, Orr said that, while he welcomed some of the recent changes to the city’s TIFs, the city could still close more TIFs and improve its financial situation in the process.

“Chicago and the mayor are moving in the right direction by freezing new spending at some downtown TIFs and dissolving those TIFs when current projects have ended,” Orr said. “Still, such scrubbing is overdue and it could certainly include more than seven of 148 TIFs.” 

You can access more information on Chicago TIF Districts by visiting the city’s online TIF data portal here.

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...