Mayor Daley didn’t just depart the City Council Wednesday with hugs, kisses, and another attempt to shape his legacy. He also ccommitted the city to hand out more than $17 million in subsidies from his favorite fountain of taxpayer funds, the tax increment financing program.
And there’s more to come. Daley got the council to sign off on the creation of a new TIF district covering swaths of a couple neighborhoods on the south side, and other more expensive projects are in the pipeline.
“I believe Chicago is better off today than it was on my first council meeting,” Daley said yesterday.
But the TIF pledges come as the mayor is leaving the city’s piggy banks empty. The city is facing a budget hole estimated at more than $500 million this year, and aides to mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel are already expecting he’ll have to draw on some TIF funds to help patch it. In addition, about half of what’s collected by the TIF program would otherwise go to the Chicago Public Schools, which is facing its own deficit in excess of $700 million.