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The Chicago Public Education Revitalization Ordinance popularly known as The Garza-Cardenas TIF Ordinance


The Chicago Public Education Revitalization Ordinance popularly known as the Garza-Cardenas Ordinance provides the City of Chicago (the City) a process for directly aiding the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) by declaring TIF surplus and providing a supplement grant from the City’s share of TIF surplus.  Currently there is no process for providing TIF dollars to schools.

Current Process: 

Currently, the City determines the amount of TIF surplus by privately analyzing TIF funding requirements and surplus availability.

Proposed Process:

When the school district faces financial distress, this ordinance will require the City to annually calculate and distribute available TIF surplus based on clearly defined standards for:

  • Incremental tax collections
  • Existing contractual agreements
  • Financial obligations

This proposal would end the practice of excluding “potential” future project obligations, which may or may not occur, from calculations of the available TIF surplus at these times of financial distress in the schools.

Enhanced Transparency: 

The Ordinance would require the City to provide its annual TIF surplus calculations on the City’s website detailing its assumptions and contractual obligations.

Increased City Support of Public Education: 

In addition to the CPS receiving its proportional share of TIF surplus distribution (approximately 53%), the proposed Ordinance would require the City to contribute its proportional share of TIF surplus distribution (approximately 20%) as a Public School Revitalization Grant to pay for CPS operating costs.  

The Ordinance also requires the City to encourage other taxing districts (e.g. Cook County, Chicago Park District, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, and City Colleges of Chicago) to contribute their respective proportional shares of TIF surplus as additional Public School Revitalization Grants.

Expected Impact:

From the Fall 2015 TIF collections of approximately $371 million and fund balances, the City of Chicago declared TIF surplus of $116 million during through June 30, 2016, of which CPS received an estimated $61 million (53% of surplus distribution) for operations.

Fall 2016 collections are projected to be $461 million or $89 million more than 2015 (Source: Office of the Cook County Clerk).

Under the proposed ordinance, if the City contributed $205 million of TIF surplus by December 31, 2016, CPS would receive an estimated $150 million (73% of surplus distribution) for operations.  

Comparison of the Cardenas-Garza TIF Ordinance and the Emanuel-Pawar proposed TIF Ordinance

Garza-Cardenas TIF

Emanuel-Pawar TIF

  • To keep cuts away from the classrooms, this proposal would commit the city’s portion of a TIF surplus to the schools, allowing CPS to receive well over 70% or the total TIF surplus.
  • The city would encourage other taxing districts to do the same, in line with a proposed state law, with the potential to provide 100% of a TIF surplus to the schools.
  • The proposal encourages thoughtful, deliberate and transparent plans regarding TIF surplus. It considers what districts are most in need of those dollars and removes political motivations from the process.
  • This ordinance would increase transparency and public reporting on the calculation of a TIF surplus.
  • This proposal would conservatively provide the school district $100-150M to help address the current crisis.
  • Should CPS continue to face financial distress, we can reasonably assume similar amounts of funding to be available in coming years given the large increases in property tax rates and anticipated increases in assessed values.
  • This proposal only provides schools with 52% of the total TIF surplus.
  • The proposal is voluntary and individual aldermen have to “agree” to give the money to the schools. It there is no agreement by the aldermen the schools would receive NO additional funds.
  • The proposal does not guarantee any funding to the schools regardless of the level of need or the amount of unused TIF resources available.
  • The proposal does NOT include support to the schools from the City of Chicago’s portion of a TIF surplus and drastically decreases the odds of support from other taxing bodies or the state.
  • The Emanuel-Pawar proposal is sub-optimal use of TIF surplus.  One should ask the question, do unidentified developers of hoped for future projects need the money more than our schools do now? If the City were to declare a TIF surplus, do the Metro Water Reclamation District, parks and city budget really need a cash windfall more than our schools? 
  • This proposal would allow unused and uncommitted TIF money to continue to sit in TIF slush funds while any surplus TIF money that is declared would have a smaller portion dedicated to protecting CPS schools.