Our weekly users guide to local government in Chicago:
By Kim Bellware
1. Return of the TIF
The latest Tax Increment Financing reports are out—so we took a look at how the 2018 numbers stack up. Before diving in, here’s one of our favorite TIF breakdown: CITYLAB
By The Numbers: Approving a new TIF district can have obvious near-term consequences, exemplified by the recent approval of the Lincoln Yards TIF. CHICAGO READER In 2018 alone, the eight top-grossing TIF districts (out of 143 citywide) netted more than $275 million. That’s roughly equivalent to the Chicago Public Schools’ 2018 budget hole. CHICAGO SUN-TIMES
Up Next: The city of Chicago publishes its annual TIF reports in separate PDFs per TIF district. That’s a problem. URBAN INSTITUTE To make it easier for you to do your own analysis, we’ve converted those PDFs into a spreadsheet. CITY BUREAU
2. Older Chicagoans Are the Bulk of City’s Fatal Crash Victims
The city was on track to improve its car-on-pedestrian fatality rate in 2019 (with only 17 fatalities through June, compared to 22 in the same period last year)—but a deadly July in which six pedestrians were fatally hit by cars erased that early progress.
First Notice: An eye-catching stat from the August 8 Mayor’s Pedestrian Advisory Council revealed how older and elderly Chicagoans are disproportionately the victims in fatal car-on-pedestrian crashes. DOCUMENTERS
By The Numbers: Seventy-five percent of fatal pedestrian crash victims were over age 50 and 20 percent were older than 80—even more unsettling: a third of those deaths happened when a pedestrian was in a marked crosswalk. BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO x THE DAILY LINE
Up Next: The Mayors’ Pedestrian Advisory Council meets again November 7. DOCUMENTERS
3. A Sweetheart Deal in the Making?
A last-minute vote switch at the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District’s August meeting had some in attendance asking, “Was that legal?” DOCUMENTERS
Why It Matters: The Village of Crestwood is angling to lease MWRD land for a proposed casino—at a steep discount. DOCUMENTERS An August 8 roll call vote failed, prompting MWRD Commissioner Marcelino Garcia to nudge the item to pass by changing his “no” vote to “yes.”
More: Commissioners are allowed to change their vote, but Commissioner Debra Shore said at an August 9 MWRD follow-up meeting that the vote-switch hinted of a “sweetheart” deal. Last year an analysis by the Illinois Green Party revealed what it called “the appearance of corruption” on the MWRD board. DAILY HERALD
First Notice: “Unfortunately I remain uneasy with the way this question has been handled by the board of commissioners,” said Shore, who opposed the amendment. See Shore’s pushback against the vote switcheroo at 2:36:25: LEGISTAR
Up Next: The MWRD’s Board of Commissioners meets again September 5. DOCUMENTERS
4. Study: Chicago Casino Is No Safe Bet
The Illinois Gaming Board got dealt a bad hand. The board commissioned a feasibility study into proposed sites for a Chicago casino—the verdict: none of them would turn much profit due to an aggressive tax/fee structure set by Illinois lawmakers this year. CHICAGO TRIBUNE
Why It Matters: State and city officials already made plans to spend the anticipated windfall from gambling taxes: Gov. J.B. Pritzker needs revenue for his big infrastructure plan CHICAGO SUN TIMES and the city needs to fill gaps in its budget, especially for police and fire pensions. Now that no Chicago neighborhood sites are really on the table, the city will have to compromise on tax structure, location—or both—if it wants to snag investors (hello, downtown casino?). CHICAGO SUN TIMES
5. Growing Affordable Housing In Gentrifying ‘Hoods
A new bill would expand the number of affordable housing options by providing capital for the Chicago Community Land Trust to monitor more properties in gentrifying neighborhoods and let homeowners opt their own property into to CCLT’s portfolio. A CCLT-monitored property ensures a home will only be re-sold to an eligible buyer at an affordable — not market — rate of appreciation when the owner who opted in dies or sells. LEGISTAR
Why It Matters: “The positive reaction I’ve gotten is from older homeowners who wonder what’s going to happen to their home if they don’t have [heirs] or if their children already have a home,” CCLT Executive Director Jim Wheaton told City Bureau.
First Notice: During the Aug. 1 meeting of CCLT’s board of directors, Wheaton detailed a similar “opt in” land trust in Minneapolis. DOCUMENTERS
Up Next: The bill (O2019-5555) is expected to be discussed at the Committee on Housing and Real Estate’s September 11 meeting. DOCUMENTERS
M | T | W | T | F
Tuesday (8/20): The Retirement Board will give an update on how the city’s retirement fund investments (including for police, fire and board of education members) are performing AGENDA
Wednesday (8/21): The Chicago Department of Public Health CPO will present on “Family Connects Chicago,” a program that connects home visit nurses with families of newborns who need health and community resources. AGENDA City Bureau fellows wrote about the program in June. AUSTIN WEEKLY NEWS
Thursday (8/23): The Regional Transportation Authority board of directors, which oversees Metra, will vote to approve spending $9 million in federal funds to improve transportation options on Metra and PACE for seniors and people with disabilities. AGENDA
Support City Bureau’s local government transparency work by becoming a City Bureau Press Club member today.
To get twice-monthly emails including Chicago news and events, sign up for City Bureau’s Chicago newsletter.