Forest Park’s tax-increment financing (TIF) districts generated $1.84 million in revenue in 2017, down from $2.03 million a year earlier, according to the annual report on Chicago area TIFs produced by Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office. The village’s decline could be the result of closing the Forest Park Plaza TIF this year. During its 23-year lifetime, the Plaza TIF generated $13.36 million.

Following creation of a TIF district, the equalized assessed valuation (EAV) of the property is frozen for taxing bodies whose boundaries include the district. Any property tax revenue generated by the increased EAV goes into the TIF fund to be spent on improvements in the district, generally infrastructure. 

TIF revenue accounts for approximately 4 percent of property tax billed in the suburbs and, on average, 1 in 22 suburban properties are in a TIF, according to the clerk’s report.  

Orr has frequently called for increased transparency in regards to the creation and revenue generated from TIFs, including giving the public a greater say in how TIF dollars are spent.

“TIFs can be an effective economic tool if used responsibly,” Orr said in a statement. “But TIF generated revenue flies under the radar of many taxpayers who don’t realize they’re paying additional taxes without the same oversight as traditional property taxes.” 

There are currently three TIFs in Forest Park: at Brown St. Station and Harlem Ave.; down the Roosevelt Road Corridor; and at Roosevelt Road and Hannah Ave., which gifted Living Fresh Market up to $450,000 in TIF funds earlier this year. So far, the TIF at Roosevelt and Hannah is the most lucrative, started in 2002 and generating $11.63 million; the TIF at Roosevelt Road Corridor is the least lucrative. Started in 2015, it is the newest of the three TIFs and has so far raked in $616,372. 

“Unless a municipality can demonstrate ongoing blight, taxpayers should not be required to continue funding additional development,” Orr said in a statement. “Sunset provisions would ensure projects terminate after project goals are achieved.”

Forest Park’s three TIFs join 38 total TIF districts in Proviso Township, which brought in approximately $21.5 million in revenue in 2017, essentially on par with the total in 2016, when Proviso’s taxing districts brought in $21.1 million in revenue. 

Some of that lost revenue was offset by the creation of two new TIFs in Proviso Township, both located in LaGrange Park, and the fact that most TIFs in the township experienced revenue bumps from 2016 to 2017.

Total TIF revenue for Cook County totaled around $1 billion in 2017, a nearly 20 percent increase over 2016, when total revenue was around $852,000. The total 2017 revenue of all 143 TIFs located in Chicago was around $660 million while the total revenue for the 304 TIFs in suburban Cook County was around $344 million.

In his report, Orr noted that the 18.4 percent total increase of all suburban TIFs in Cook County was driven largely by increased taxable values that resulted from a 5 percent increase in the state equalizer and reassessments in the southern suburbs.

Nona Tepper contributed to this report.