City Hall answers Clerk Orr’s calls for TIF reform

July 13, 2015
Press Release
Real Estate and Tax

2014 TIF revenue down 12% in Chicago, up 4% in suburbs

Corrected July 14, 2015

Cook County Clerk David Orr announced Monday Chicago tax increment financing district revenue dropped a record 12 percent in 2014, as City Hall revealed it would finally answer Orr’s long-standing calls for TIF reform.

“Chicago and the mayor are moving in the right direction by freezing new spending at some downtown TIFs and dissolving those TIFs when current projects have ended,” Orr said. “Still, such scrubbing is overdue and it could certainly include more than seven of 148 TIFs.”

Collectively, the seven TIFs targeted for early termination by the City have generated $869 million in revenue, including $93 million in 2014 alone, according to the Clerk’s office. Since 1986, $6.3 billion has been collected from all Chicago TIFs.

“City officials always say it’s so simple to identify how the money is spent. It’s not simple,” Orr said. “I welcome the addition of more TIF data to the city’s website and hope it helps aldermen, the media, taxpayers and watchdogs easily identify how TIF dollars have been, and will be, spent.”

Orr’s 2014 TIF revenue report shows Chicago will collect $372 million in TIF revenue from its 148 TIFs in the 2014 tax year, its lowest amount since 2004, when the city’s TIF take was $328.7 million.

City Hall cancelled seven TIFs in 2014, including four that were ended ahead of their 23-year lifespan. The record TIF revenue decline of 12 percent, or $50 million less than 2013, is primarily the result of Chicago’s Near South TIF being terminated.

“It’s good to see big downtown TIFs ending and know more will be dissolved soon,” Orr said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t need thorough reviews of how billions were spent in the Loop. For example, nearly $638 million was generated in the Near South TIF and we still don’t have a comprehensive, easy-to-understand audit of how that money was spent, project by project, contractor by contractor, dollar by dollar.”

As TIFs are removed from the tax rolls, taxing districts, including schools, have an opportunity to levy for and collect additional revenue without increasing tax rates. For example, the dissolution of the Near South TIF resulted in an additional $36 million available to Chicago Public Schools for the 2014 tax year. (See Fact Sheet)

10-Year TIF Projection

Orr’s office conducted a first-ever analysis of Chicago TIFs expected to expire between 2015 and 2024. The review revealed 71 TIFs would reach their 23-year lifespan in the next decade, including five of the seven identified for earlier termination by the City. Orr’s office added two more TIFs into the analysis – River West and LaSalle Central – and estimated a 2019 phase out following the announcement those TIFs would be retired early.

A conservative estimate projects $296 million in recovered TIF value over 10 years. Of that, CPS could reclaim $160 million from closed TIFs and the other taxing bodies including Chicago could recover $136 million. The estimates are based on today’s property values, not including any additional growth or reductions in value between now and when the TIFs expire. The recovered TIF values would be small until 2019, when $94 million in recovered TIF value could be returned to the taxing bodies, assuming the seven targeted downtown TIFs will not be retired sooner.

The analysis only includes recovered TIF value. There is also potential for one-time windfalls if TIF surplus is declared each time a TIF is dissolved.

New, expanded TIFS

It is important to note Chicago added four new TIFs and quadrupled the size of the 119th/Halsted TIF, which is located to the west of the CTA Red Line expansion. The proposed Red Line expansion and 111th Street station are the driving force behind the new 107th/Halsted TIF. (See Map at right; larger version in full report)

The new Washington Park TIF, estimated to generate $25 million over its life, is located near the University of Chicago and could assist with the development of the Obama Presidential Library. The new 51st/Lake Park TIF includes the site of a new Hyde Park Whole Foods, and the new California/Foster TIF is targeted for expansion at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

Other Chicago highlights from Clerk Orr’s TIF revenue report include:

  • Of the non-cancelled TIFs, revenue increased from
    $354 million to $372 million, or 4.8 percent.
  • 7 TIFs were cancelled: 3 ran their course, 4 were terminated early.
  • Four new TIFs were added in Chicago, and the 119th/Halsted TIF was expanded from 791 to 3,246 parcels. (See Chart A)
  • 92 TIFs had revenue increases. The largest Chicago TIFs in 2014 by revenue are: Canal/Congress ($20.3 million); Chicago/Kingsbury ($19.5 million); Kinzie Conservation ($19.3 million).
  • 25 TIFs – including the 7 that were terminated – did not collect any revenue.
  • 38 TIFs deceased in revenue.
  • Chicago TIF revenue has only declined in four tax years: 11.9 percent in 2014; 11.5 percent in 2008; 11 percent in 2011; 7.6 percent in 2013.

Suburban Cook County

Countywide, $644 million was collected in the 434 active TIF districts. This 5.73 percent overall decrease is primarily due to the dissolution of 28 TIFs in Chicago and suburban Cook County, which eliminated $80 million in total TIF revenue this year.

Revenue for the 286 suburban TIF districts increased by 4.27 percent in 2014, from $261 million in 2013 to $272 million in 2014.

Six suburban municipalities collected more than $10 million in total TIF revenue in 2014: Rosemont ($38.9 million), Glenview ($32.1 million), Hoffman Estates ($28 million), Cicero ($13.8 million), Oak Park ($10.6 million), and Palatine ($10.1 million). The Cicero Town Square TIF nearly tripled its revenue this year from just under
$1 million last year to $2.9 million.

With Chicago’s Near South TIF eliminated, suburban TIFs are now the biggest revenue generators in Cook County.

  • The Hoffman Estates Sears TIF takes the title of largest TIF in Cook County by overall lifetime revenue. It has collected $512 million since 1989, including nearly $28 million in 2014. Unlike most other TIFs that have a 23-year lifespan, the Hoffman Estates Sears TIF has a 38-year lifespan.
  • The Glenview Naval Air Station TIF had the largest single year revenue collection at $32 million.

In recent years, the number of TIF districts in suburban Cook County has steadily grown. While 21 suburban TIFs were terminated, another 23 TIFs were added in the suburbs, bringing the total to 286 TIFs in 93 suburban municipalities. That means 72 percent of Cook County’s suburbs have at least one TIF district in their town or city.

The Clerk’s 10-year review of expiring TIFs in the suburbs revealed 117 TIFs are set to dissolve by 2024, which will return $206 million in recovered TIF revenue to the taxing bodies. Unlike Chicago’s expiration pattern, an average of 12 TIFs per year are set to expire starting with nine TIFs for the 2015 tax year.

Other suburban Cook County TIF highlights:

  • The largest suburban TIFs are: Glenview Naval Air Station ($32.1 million); Hoffman Estates Sears ($27.8 million); Rosemont 1 ($15.2 million); Rosemont River Road ($13.2 million); and Cicero 1 ($10.3 million).
  • 154 existing TIFs had revenue increases. 
  • 55 TIFs had revenue declines. 
  • 54 TIFs did not collect any revenue in 2014.
  • 23 new TIFs were created in suburban Cook County in: Arlington Heights, Bellwood (7 new TIFs replacing 7 terminated TIFs), Chicago Ridge, Crestwood, Des Plaines, Elk Grove Village, Elmwood Park, Hillside, Lansing, Lincolnwood, Oak Lawn, Olympia Fields, Phoenix, Rosemont, Schaumburg, and Wheeling. (See Chart B)
  • 2 TIFs expanded in Blue Island and Lincolnwood. (See Chart B)

To view data on each TIF district, see these PDF sections of the TIF Report: Countywide summary, Chicago summary,
Suburban summary, Tax Increment Agency Report.

Visit TIF Viewer, a mapping application, to see TIF data at the map level and search by municipality, ward, address or PIN.

Previous TIF reports, the TIF property search tool, and TIF maps can be found at