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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Confused About TIFs? Join The Club. Lincoln Square Group Hosting ‘TIFs 101’ This Month

The association's program starts at 6:30 p.m. April 30 at the American Legion Post 973, 4355 N. Western Ave.

dnainfo/Patty Wetli
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LINCOLN SQUARE — The Heart Of Lincoln Square Neighborhood Association wants to help demystify how the city’s Tax Increment Financing works.

“The idea for this came out of my own sense of ignorance. I was paying a fair amount of attention to the mayor and 47th Ward races and and the topic of TIFs just kept coming up,” said Emily Stone, the association’s vice president. “And then Lincoln Yards kept popping up in the news.”

The association’s ”TIFs 101” starts at 6:30 p.m. on April 30 at the American Legion Post 973, 4355 N. Western Ave. The event is free but guests are being asked to RSVP here.

Confirmed speakers include Ernie Constantino, planning and development director for the 47th Ward; Ryan Warsing, a neighborhood services director for Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce; John Chase, director of investigations for the Better Government Association; and Andrea Craft, a doctoral student in urban planning and policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“You definitely don’t need to be an expert in TIFs to come to this,” Stone said.

“We’re going to look at TIFs and Special Service Areas, how they benefit and are used in Lincoln Square,” Stone said. “And also take a citywide perspective of how are they supposed to operate and how they actually operate in reality.”

The closest TIF to Lincoln Square is the Western Avenue (North) TIF, which covers 227 acres along major arterial streets within the Lincoln Square and Uptown communities and is set to expire in 2024.

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is a special funding tool used by the City of Chicago to promote investment in blighted areas. Funds are used to build and repair roads and infrastructure, clean polluted land and put vacant properties back to productive use, usually in conjunction with private projects.

The tax revenue in a TIF district is created via the “growth in the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) of properties” over a period of 23 years, according to the city.

Confused? So are many Chicagoans.

The financial jargon the city uses to explain it and the opaque way the city’s 180 or so active TIF districts are managed has led to criticism that the tool functions as a “shadow budget” and “slush fund” for the mayor and aldermen.

On April 10, the city approved the creation of the Cortland and Chicago River TIF district for the controversial Lincoln Yards development. The new TIF is expected to generate at least $900 million to cover the cost of infrastructure projects to pave the way for Lincoln Yards to be built.

Raise Your Hand and the Grassroots Collaborative are suing the city, saying it didn’t satisfy state requirements for creating a new tax increment financing district.

“We’ll be soliciting questions from people beforehand and at the event,” Stone said. “So if people have their own questions, they should please bring them.”

For more information about the event and to submit a question visit the association’s website.

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