The City Council, for no apparent reason, puts TIF transparency on hold | Bleader

The City Council, for no apparent reason, puts TIF transparency on hold

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For more than two hours today--including an interruption by protesters shouting for an Olympics community-benefits agreement--aldermen heard testimony about the benefits of making the details of the city's tax increment financing deals more accessible online and how easy it would be to put them there.

In fact, no one--no alderman or member of the public--argued against a proposed ordinance that would require the city to do it, and several media and technology experts even offered to help out for free.

But this being the Chicago City Council, where almost nothing moves forward without the imprimatur of the mayor, the proposal was tabled without a vote.

"We've gathered quite a bit of information here today, and I think we have a lot of loose ends to tie up with our law department, and I think we've heard some recommendations from other aldermen, so we're going to hold this," said 39th Ward alderman Margaret Laurino, chairman of the council's Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology Development, which held the meeting in conjuntion with the Committee on Finance. Laurino, who said she liked the intent of the proposal but had concerns about the cost and logistics, offered no timetable for when it would be considered again.

Chief sponsors Manny Flores (1st Ward) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) said they were disappointed but still expect some version of the ordinance to pass, perhaps by next month. They also said they see this as the first step in making a range of information about city government operations more easily available to the public, including budget figures and documents.

"Here is a way to rely on TIF, an issue that's gathered a lot of interest and discussion, to be a model," Flores said. "We'll continue to advocate and work on the legislation. I think we're both cautiously optimistic."

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