Posted Online: Feb. 03, 2013, 6:00 am
Letter: Yes, reform Illinois TIFS; here are some of the ways
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A recent editorial called for Tax Increment Financing (TIF) reform. I could not agree more. Other states have stricter requirements that Illinois should emulate and adopt and therefore, better serve the taxpayers that provide the funds.
In order to strengthen public input, the public hearing must provide specific plans for the property. A second hearing is then needed to approve the development deal, protecting the taxpayers' interest.
Reporting requirements need to be structured in order to gauge effectiveness of the redevelopment plan. TIFs are all about job creation, and the number of jobs created should be viewed as one of several performance indicators. Failure of the developer to meet performance requirements should result in dissolution of the district.
Annual reviews for over-lapping taxing bodies should be consistent in format from year to year in order to easily track success or failure.
Developers should have to provide proof that they cannot obtain private financing. This requirement would demonstrate a true need for public funds and remove any doubt of the "But, for" test.
Joint Review Boards should have defined rules as to quorums, meeting notifications, and responsibilities.
The number of conditions needed to qualify as "blighted" should be increased to a majority. This will ensure that "blight" does actually exist, and that the TIF is warranted.
Finally, the term limits should be drastically reduced. Asking school districts, overlapping taxing bodies and the taxpayers to be patient and make sacrifices for 23-35 years is too much.