Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wilson Yard Annual Report

Download it HERE


  1. It doesn't tell us anything important. Does it?

  2. Thanks for posting this! Too bad we have to go to a neighborhood blog to read a TIF report. Too bad the City can't manage to post them.

    Anyway, I'm planning to browse the 2006 WY annual report and post some notes, share what I know of what can be learned from one of these puppies.

    Here's something off the top.

    Private investment includes city, state, federal

    The City makes a big deal of their "ratios" in TIF deals. Our Dept. of Planning reps brag on the incentive value of TIF before our Planning Commission, Community Development Commission, and Finance Committee when they are stumping for TIF. So does our Mayor and our Commissioner of DPD, on the extremely rare occasions when they defend Chicago's TIF program in public.

    One of the TIF reforms in the package of state legislation of a few years ago that mandated the annual reports we are enjoying now, was to force cities to calculate the public/private investment ratios and put them in writing. The ratios appear in a table near the back of each TIF report.

    The "public" and "private" columns in the table have a fun asterisk to some amusing fine print:

    "* Each actual or estimated Public Investment reported here is, to the extent possible, comprised only of payments financed by tax increment revenues. In contrast, each actual or estimated Private Investment reported here is, to the extent possible, comprised of payments financed by revenues that are not tax increment revenues and, therefore, may include private equity, private lender financing, private grants, other public monies, or other local, state, or federal grants or loans."

    In other words, in the through-looking-glass world of TIF in Chicago, all NON-TIF money is considered "private" and ONLY TIF money is counted as "public." The column headings are deliberately misleading.

    A TIF project like WY highlights this routine deceit. WY is in effect a massive public works project, funded by a huge basket of state and federal tax credits and loans, with a small minority of what we taxpayers would normally consider "private" investment (Holsten dough). When Shiller, for example, diverts her "aldermanic menu" funds to WY, guess what? that's PRIVATE investment.

    But the City has their leverage figure to brag on: 3.3:1 "private" to "public."