Jan 31, 2012 1
TIF subsidies returned by three corporations should be declared surplus and used to restore cuts in public services; and Mayor Emanuel should hold off on new TIF spending until he can implement his TIF reform panel’s recommendations, groups working on the issue said Tuesday.
News broke Monday that CME, CNA and Bank of America were returning a combined $33 million, CME saying it didn’t need the money now that the state has cut its taxes, CNA and Bank of America admitting they hadn’t met job creation goals.
CME had been the target of a series of protests by Grassroots Collaborative, which on different occasions set up a classroom outside the corporate headquarters to dramatize lost school funding, declared the site a “corporate crime scene,” and held a bake sale for the corporation. Last week Stand Up Chicago delivered a golden toilet to CME, which was to get $15 million for a luxury bathroom, cafe, and fitness center.
Restore public services
“With communities reeling from proposed school closings, cuts to libraries, and the shutdown of six mental health clinics, the $33 million dollars should be immediately returned to critical public services that working families of Chicago depend on, and not redirected back to downtown TIF slush funds,” said Amisha Patel.
She said the news reflects the impact of groups working to highlight the issue of corporate subsidies and tax breaks.
Also Monday, Emanuel announced he would create an online TIF database and order random independent audits of TIFs. It was his first action on the recomendations of his TIF reform panel since its report last August.
Illinois PIRG released a report calling on Emanuel to fully implement the panel’s recommendations as a first step toward TIF reform, and to declare a moratorium on new TIF spending until the reforms are in place.
“If the Mayor and the City Council admit that TIF is broken, why would they continue to use the program before it gets fixed?” said Celeste Meiffren, author of the report.