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New TIF money to be declared a surplus?

Tuesday, Apr 15, 2014

Posted by Barton Lorimor (@bartonlorimor)

* From the WTTW-TV page carrying a recent Chicago Tonight interview…

“One of the consequences of the property tax increase is more property tax revenue in TIF [Tax Increment Financing] districts,” Burns said.

There are 153 TIF districts in the city, and typically, any additional increment generated would go into the TIF districts, according to Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn.

“Aldermen Burns and Pawar came to the administration with the idea that any additional funds generated in TIFs would immediately be declared a surplus. It was a good, creative idea that the mayor fully supported,” Quinn said in a statement. “This means that CPS will get 50 percent of the surplus, while the City will receive 20 percent, of which will go towards pension payments.”

I haven’t seen any react from the CTU just yet, but Karen Lewis has been full of new revenue ideas as of late, including Ald. Fioretti’s commuter income tax…

“Revenue is the issue,” says Stacy Davis Gates, Political Director with the Chicago Teachers Union. “Pensions are not the issue. He proposed a commuter tax. He also proposed other innovative ideas.”

* By the way, while we’re on the topic of Fioretti…

ld. Bob Fioretti (2nd) slammed Mayor Rahm Emanuel Monday, calling some of his decisions “inescusable” and saying his administration had “fumbled” many projects.

He also said he’s been mulling a mayoral run in next year’s election while “meeting with people all across the city in every ward.”

“I’m honored and I’m encouraged by the responses that I hear,” he said at a City Club of Chicago luncheon Monday. The alderman promised he “will make the announcement at an appropriate time, in the appropriate place.”

* To get back to the pension issue, though…

The dialogue regarding why the Senate Republicans voted against this proposal but put green lights on others, and how the state might handle other communities that come to Springfield to adjust their pension systems is especially interesting in the long run. Now that the Mayor has broken through, others are saying they will follow…

“Personally, I was patient until Mayor Rahm Emanuel went to Springfield and showed the rest of the mayors of the state how to get it done,” Hanover Park Village President Rodney Craig said. “Then my patience kind of runs out.”

Because the General Assembly made pension reform happen for Chicago, Craig said, “I want the same level of commitment to the municipalities of the rest of the state.”

On Monday, Craig and other members of the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference met with the Daily Herald Editorial Board to insist a state law that reduces pension benefits for police and firefighters is needed to stabilize municipal budgets and prevent pension systems from collapsing.

* Related…

* Rauner urges Quinn to veto Emanuel’s pension bill

* Ald. Pawar Kicks off Re-election Bid, Says ‘Maybe’ to Future Mayoral Run

- Posted by Barton Lorimor        


20 Comments
  1. - RNUG - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 8:18 am:

    Just the start of the maneuvering. I predicted, once the State level pensions were “addressed”, Chicago would be looking for a pension bailout / help of some kind. Now that Chicago is being “helped” (but not financially yet), other (non-IMRF) government bodies want “pension relief” also.

    Since the IL Constitution applies to all government entities in the state, this is all really premature until we know the final fate of State level “pension reform”.


  2. - Friedman - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 8:23 am:

    “Karen Lewis has been full of new revenue ideas as of late”
    Yeah, I’ll bet she is. She’s full of a lot of other stuff too.


  3. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 8:41 am:

    I have a hard time getting past Fioretti’s dismissive view of the Constitution when he worked to oust the “Felony Franks” hotdog stand because he was offended by their joking name (the company hired ex-cons to rehabiliate them).


  4. - Just Me - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 9:34 am:

    Commuter tax: Raising taxes on other people is always politically popular.


  5. - Walker - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 9:45 am:

    Burns is no fool. A simple mechanism to transfer excess funds generated by a tax change, to where they are needed. TIFs are too powerful, restrictive, and numerous, as it is.

    What I’d like to see is an open acknowledgement by all, regardless of party, that our current state annual operating budget is producing a surplus as well. Part of our increased available funds have been used to fully meet ramped up pension obligations, and the remaining surplus is being used to pay down a significant amount of overdue bills.

    We’ve got big problems still, and much more needs to be done, but our current state budget is in surplus and starting to clean up sins of the past.

    That’s reality, but no one’s clearly saying it.

    I always laugh when I hear someone complaining that we don’t have a “balanced budget” as if that is a crime. They never add “because it’s now in surplus.”


  6. - Robert the Bruce - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 9:58 am:

    Fioretti would be lucky to get 25% against Rahm.

    But I wonder if Rahm recognizes Burns and Pawar as potential mayoral opponents some day, and does that make him more open to their ideas on TIFs?


  7. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    I’m sure Fioretti and Pawar are trying to get CTU and other unions to back them. They won’t be able to raise the money Rahm does, but it’s not like Rahm is a popular guy in the city these days.


  8. - Rod - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 11:33 am:

    The TIF [Tax Increment Financing] solution to every fiscal problem
    Chicago or the Chicago Public Schools has effectively and for years propagated by Ben Joravsky of the Reader. There is no question that the TIF pot has been used as a project slush fund for years in Chicago, but using TIF surpluses in order to avoid an honest discussion of Chicago’s very low property tax rate is really absurd.

    The truth is Chicago may have to use all fiscal venues including property tax rate increases, creative taxes like the commuter tax, and releasing TIF funds were possible to keep all four of the pension funds a float. TIF’s by the way have friends in the trade unions and developers, just attend a conference sponsored by the Illinois Tax Increment Association to see the construction trades unions. Almost all TIFs involving public infrastructure projects use unionized construction workers.

    I do not even want to contemplate the legitimate issue Rnug raises about the constitutionality of benefit limitations imposed by these various bills. If these are found to be largely unconstitutional the cost to the tax payers and citizens of Chicago will be even greater.


  9. - yo - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 12:19 pm:

    what is the deadline for a supreme court decision on pension bill, anyhow?


  10. - Barton Lorimor - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    connor - Rich approached me about filling in for him days before any of those posts. Skepticism over cynicism, please.


  11. - Belle - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    Fioretti has been my Alderman for the past year and it was pretty clear, as of a year ago, that this was on his mind.
    Daley/Rahm decided to give Fioretti in a kind of sink-or-swim more. It involves all kinds of far-flung neighborhoods instead of his typical South side. Many of these areas (parts of Reilly, Waguespack, Smith, and Moreno’s Wards) are fairly wealthy. They actually exposed him to more money. It will never be the amount that he needs to face off against Rahm but it sure changes the situation.


  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    @Robert the Bruce:

    Rahm probably recognizes everyone as a potential opponent some day.

    That said, he can only really worry about the realistic opponents who could possibly beat him. I count about half a dozen. Pawar is not on that list. He has a total of $22K on hand.

    Fioretti: $200K

    Danny Davis: $250K

    Quigley: $500K


  13. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    –Quigley: $500K–

    Has Quigley expressed an interest in running for mayor? I hadn’t heard that.

    Can’t see it now, but I’ll have to ruminate on that. If you have any ambition at all, being in the minority in the U.S. House is a pretty boring gig.

    Preckwinkle, of course, is the intriguing potential candidate. But I don’t see how she could run for re-election to county board prez then lurch right into a mayor’s vote four months later (with the distractions of the holidays in-between).


  14. - A guy... - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    My own take on this is Quigley likes it where he is. I don’t see him going high stakes here. Someone remind me, isn’t Rahm the guy who helped engineer him into that seat in the first place? If so, that dog don’t hunt.


  15. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    Wordslinger:

    Mayor Daley did it.

    The thing with Preckwinkle is: she arguably has the better job. From County Board President to Mayor is more or a lateral move than a promotion.

    @A guy -

    Yeah, minority in Congress is awesome.

    C’mon. Quigley went from being in the papers every week and praised by the editorial boards every month to invisible man.

    If he doesn’t miss that spotlight, he is rarest among elected officials.

    Complete the sentence: “Since his election to Congress, Mike Quigley’s major accomplishments include….”

    I would have said that the tough hurdle for Quigley is he is not a Chicagoan, but a suburban native, but that did not seem to slow down Rahm.


  16. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 4:16 pm:

    –Someone remind me, isn’t Rahm the guy who helped engineer him into that seat in the first place?–

    If I recall correctly, when designated future chief of staff Emanuel recklessly got caught on FBI taps talking crazy with obviously-soon-to–indicted Blago about “appointing” a seatholder for his Congressional seat (which neither one of those brain surgeons realized was not possible), the choice wss Claypool.

    That’s when I knew Emanuel was full of stuff. How in the world could a “smart guy” get on the phone and talk deals with Blago in late 2008, and put the president-elect in that sort of danger?

    Those conversations led to president-elect Obama being interviewed by the FBI about what those two rocket scientists were up to.

    Do you understand how dangerous that was? You can lie to a cop; if you lie to a federales, even without taking an oath, it’s a felony. An FBI agent can interpret a misstatement or a faulty memory as a lie, and here comes the indictment.

    Rahm’s a lightweight, a fundraiser and a spinmaster. That’s it.


  17. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 5:31 pm:

    YDD, I’ve worked on both sides of that building, including for a Board President. You might be the only person alive who thinks being Mayor is a lateral move. It’s a huuuuuge promotion for anyone else.

    Cook County Board President is the red-headed step child of executive jobs. All you really get to do these days is run the Forest Preserves and pay the bills.


  18. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 6:13 pm:

    –The thing with Preckwinkle is: she arguably has the better job. From County Board President to Mayor is more or a lateral move than a promotion.–

    You can’t be serious.


  19. - RonOglesby - Tuesday, Apr 15, 14 @ 7:12 pm:

    “Rahm’s a lightweight, a fundraiser and a spinmaster. ” And a junior level bully to get his way.


  20. - Johnny Justice - Wednesday, Apr 16, 14 @ 1:16 am:

    It will be hard for anyone to mount a challenge to Emanuel’s enormous political war chest, but if anyone can, it is Fioretti. He is articulate, smart, and charismatic. He has strong support in the African -American community. If he had the same money as Rahm, Fioretti would win hands down. Question is does he still beat Emanuel if he is outspent 10-1?


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