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TIF 'Illumination' Series Turns Focus to 11th Ward

By Casey Cora | December 1, 2014 5:31am
 Tom Tresser, a co-founder of the Civic Lab, discusses the ins and outs of tax increment financing at a TIF Illuminator workshop.
Tom Tresser, a co-founder of the Civic Lab, discusses the ins and outs of tax increment financing at a TIF Illuminator workshop.
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DNAinfo/Casey Cora

BRIDGEPORT — An "illumination" event aims to unpack the complicated world of tax increment financing districts, commonly known as TIFs.

The seminar, which focuses on the 11th Ward, is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Monday in the community room of First Lutheran Church of the Trinity , 643 W. 31st St. 

Hosted by The Civic Lab co-founder Tom Tresser, the ongoing, citywide seminars are for residents looking to learn how money is being collected and spent under the oft-misunderstood economic development tool of TIFs.

Here's how it works: When an area is declared a TIF district — by law it's supposed to be in a "blighted" area — the county sets a "base value" by totaling the property values within the district.

Then, the amount of property tax money public agencies like schools and parks can take from that area is calculated using that base value for 23 years. Any additional property tax money generated from an increase in property values within the TIF district is instead sent to the TIF fund overseen by the city.

Thursday's event will focus on several issues specific to the South Side ward, including the number of TIF districts in the 11th Ward, how much property tax money those TIFs took from the ward in 2013 and which projects were funded by TIF money, among other topics.

A Q-and-A session and discussion will follow Tresser's presentation. 

The event is sponsored by Friends of Maureen Sullivan, the political group backing the candidacy of 11th Ward aldermanic candidate Maureen Sullivan 

In a statement, Sullivan criticized TIF misuse and what she's labeled the 11th Ward's "old-boy leadership," citing her decade-long crusade to renovate the long-shuttered Ramova Theater, which is owned by the city.

The city in 2012 spent $330,000 shoring up the building but hasn't secured a developer to renovate it.

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