My favorite part of yesterday’s story in Crain’s about the proposed Washington Park TIF district is where it’s referred to as alderman Willie Cochran’s idea.
As if Cochran went to Mayor Daley and said: “Mr. Mayor, we’ve got this great thing called the TIF and I think we can use it in my neighborhood–like right across the street from where you want to stage your Olympics.”
I learned long ago that you have to read between the lines if you really want to know what’s going on with tax increment finance deals. So maybe this proposed TIF district really is for redeveloping vacant, boarded-up storefronts, as Cochran tells Crain’s. Or maybe we just found out how Mayor Daley intends to pay for that 75,000-seat stadium and aquatics center he wants to cram into Washington Park.
Remember, TIFs are property tax hikes. As soon as they’re created, everyone’s property taxes go up. We already have a TIF that will be used to pay for the Olympic Village. And this is supposed to be the Olympics that won’t cost us a dime, as Mayor Daley keeps telling us.
“Mr. Cochran hasn’t proposed a budget for how much the city would collect from the TIF or exactly how that money would be spent,” the article says.
Sure, like he’s going to make these decisions.
Alderman Cochran is a rookie. He’ll learn. When it comes to TIFs, it’s the mayor’s money and he tells the aldermen where, how, and when it will be spent–just ask alderman Eugene Schulter.
“Whether 2016 exists or not, the TIF is going to go forward,” Cochran told Crain’s.
I agree with him there. I don’t doubt the mayor will come up with some way to spend this TIF money, even if Chicago doesn’t get the Olympics. If Alderman Cochran plays his cards right, Mayor Daley will let him stand by his side at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.