When Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot took office, she created a very strategic plan to improve the city’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) tool. Her overall goal was to take a process that had been used incorrectly for city improvements and ensure that it was being used for community improvement. The change of both policy and procedure were a top priority especially for all the development plans that Lightfoot planned to execute during her years in office. She made it a point to let Chicagoland residents know that the procedures of TIFs were not being used the most effective for the city’s improvements, essentially signaling to them that their tax dollars could have a better use.
Over the past few years the city has planned and put action to improve and make changes to spending taxpayer dollars. Lightfoot, after entering office, told taxpayers that it was time to hold private recipients and contractors of the TIF dollars responsible for how money is allocated and used. It hasn’t been done well over the years. Something that should be used to further benefit the city should be better planned and better allocated to communities that desperately need it.
Chicago has benefited tremendously in redevelopment from TIFs. TIFs are used in the city to help redevelop vacant properties, clean, repair, and further establish communities. These projects help Chicago with its overall economic development in specific locations that meet all the guiding qualifications.
TIFs have allowed Chicago to use property tax to reinvest in neighborhoods throughout the city and help to benefit local companies as well by giving companies the chance to expand and offer employment opportunities to Chicago residence. These new projects normally are developed within TIF districts that the city plans and map out. The benefits of these projects are only to benefit city growth and recirculate the financial resources that are already made available via taxes.
There are currently more than 400 possible TIF projects which represents an 11% increase from the previous years. These developments range from street reconstruction, community development, strip mall development, health care facilities, park reconstructions, and housing developments in lower-income neighborhoods. Some of the city’s most successful TIF projects included the Marshfield Plaza near the end of the city limits which brought the community retail shopping and more than 700 jobs. The $26.6 million dollar project accomplished exactly what the city hopes a TIF will in the future but does not always succeed. That is redevelopment, using the land to improve the city, provide jobs, and bring local companies into the community. Along with this successful project the city has accomplished many affordable housing locations, manufacturing buildings, and recreational parks.
The process of TIF development has helped to shape communities within the Chicagoland area. Several of these projects have brought new light and attention to communities and areas that once struggled to maintain their relevance. With Lightfoot’s plans to improve the process, planning, and provisions of TIFs, Chicago can expect even more new developments over the next few years.