BGA Policy Analyst Alexandra Gilewicz participated in a panel discussion hosted by Cook County Clerk David Orr on Tax Increment Financing Districts, or TIFs, last Thursday, March 2.

The panel was the first of two that day hosted by the county clerk, whose office administers aspects of the county’s TIF program per state law. The first panel explored the current state of this controversial economic development tool in Chicago and Cook County, while the second panel took a closer look at newly established “transit TIF” districts.

Gilewicz spoke to the need for heightened transparency and clarity of information available with respect to how decisions on TIF expenditures are made, and how the amount of the annual TIF surplus – funds accumulated in TIF districts that are not committed to projects and are instead returned to local taxing bodies – is determined. She also addressed opportunities for reform modeled after proposed and existing legislation in other states.

Other panelists throughout the day included Aldermen Ricardo Muñoz (22), Walter Burnett (27), and Scott Waguespack (32), Aarti Kotak of the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, Metropolitan Planning Council President MarySue Barrett, University of Illinois at Chicago professor David Merriman, and the Chicago Teachers Union’s Jackson Potter.

The BGA policy unit regularly hosts and participates in panel discussions that aim to explore complex issues of local and state policy and consider potential areas of reform.