TIFs for Cops

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Nailing together two planks from the Javorsky for Mayor platform, Rahm Emanuel has proposed spending $25 million in TIF money to hire 250 more cops—if you take Ben Joravsky's estimates from August, that'd be an increase on current levels of 5,000-6,500, depending on what you mean by "beat cop."

But it's more complicated than that, as Mick Dumke describes in an interesting analysis of Emanuel's plan.

For instance: "The additional officers would be assigned to the citywide Targeted Response Unit but would work in high-crime areas that fall within TIF areas." As Dumke notes, TIFs make things tricky to budget around: if you declare a surplus, like Daley did, the money goes back to taxing bodies, and can't all be used for anything the mayor desires. As Joravsky puts it: "If Mayor Daley were to clear those accounts to pay current bills, most of the money would be divided among the Chicago Public Schools, the Park District, Cook County, and other taxing bodies. The city would be left with about $140 million for the police and other basic services."

If you don't declare a surplus, the TIF funds aren't supposed to be used for general operating expenses. And then if you get around that, you're left with the old problem of TIF money pooling in high-revenue neighborhoods, which Dumke runs some numbers on. (After that there's... porting, I guess?) In other words, if the city's newly crowned surplus represents progress, it's still slow progress.

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