Committee on Finance [remote or in person]

Chicago City Council

Monday, April 17, 2023
12:30 p.m. — 2:30 p.m. CDT

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121 N LaSalle St Chicago, IL 60602 (Directions)

City Hall, 2nd floor, Council Chambers

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Edited and summarized by the Chicago - IL Documenters Team

Note-taking by Andrew Rogers

Utility bills, TIF allocation, freedom of speech case

Live reporting by Christian Gentry

TIF allocations, utility bills, freedom of speech case

Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_
Happy Monday everyone, you know what that means! I'll be live tweeting the Chicago Committee on Finance for @CHIdocumenters #Chidocumenters #documenters

12:31 PM Apr 17, 2023 CDT

Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 2/76
@CHIdocumenters We got some big money projects on the docket.
We got the 548 Development project at 3831 W Chicago, which will create 60 units of affordable housing, and a grocery store in West Humbolt Park.

Here is a link to when that project first got zoning approval…
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 3/76
@CHIdocumenters This project will be looking for 18.7 m in TIF funding.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 4/76
@CHIdocumenters There are some other big projects, but that is the largest on the docket today. As of 12:40 Ald. Waguespack gets us kicked off.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 5/76
@CHIdocumenters We have a first speaker up. Abdullah, who owns a market and housing in West Lawndale in Chicago. He said that his property got a new water meter and his bill was $19k. Which would be the equivalent of 6 thousand gallons of water an hour. Which would flood the apartment.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 6/76
@CHIdocumenters Abdullah said that he reached out to the city, which said that it was his responsibility.

He said that bills have been fixed now, but the city still claims that he owes 19k, and has sent him to collections.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 7/76
@CHIdocumenters He speaks in support of the Utility Billing Relief Program.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 8/76
@CHIdocumenters Next up is George Blakemore.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 9/76
@CHIdocumenters George Blakemore is refusing to start his testimony and is instead yelling and random members of the city council. He eventually gets to the mic and yells about public corruption.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 10/76
@CHIdocumenters Next up is Gabby Green @BlackrootsChi she is speaking about the poor quality of water and the way this specifically effects black and brown folks.

She is speaking in support of the utilities ordinance.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 11/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi Next up is Russel Cochrane, he speaks on the way that water bills in his mothers vacant building were costing almost 3k a month. A plumber said that there was no leaks, and a lawyer confirmed the bill was incorrect.

His mother's water bill is now in excess of $55k
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 12/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi He said that the water department confirmed recently that the water meter was defective, but the finance department is unwilling to adjust the bill.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 13/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi Up next is Rev. Flukar, an organizer for @SOULInChicago who also speaks on the water for all ordinance. "No family should be forced to choose between water and groceries"
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 14/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago We move straight into item 11? The Pioneer Bank at 4000 West North Avenue in the 26th ward.

Once completed there will be an 85 unit affordable housing site and library, and the bank will be converted into a worktraining site.

The developers are looking for $13m in TIF
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 15/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago The site will cost abound $22m, of which 13m will come from the Pulask TIF district.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 16/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Alderman Coleman asks about the reason TIF funding was applied. The representative (whose name is not stated) from Department of Finance, says that the site was "blighted" to which alderman coleman laughs and suggests that maybe Michigan Ave is blighted too.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 17/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Alderman Beale asks about how the TIF funding is used. The representative (who is actually from planning and development) says that its largely for historical building purposes.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 18/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Ald. Dowell says that 60% of building costs is way above normal, which is usually 20-25%. She says that we need a reason to go above normal TIF funding especially without any justification.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 19/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Ald. Burnett says that this area is "emerging" but still has a lot of challenges. He says that those big challenges are maintaining affordability.

He commends Ald. Maldonado. He says that the 605 doens't bother him, so that way when he asks for 60% he will get it.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 20/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Ald. Villegas echoes concerns about the lack of consistent TIF funding standards.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 21/76
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 22/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago We move up to item 3.

Jennie Bennet Director of Finance in Chicago is up. She is speaking on the execution of a water supply agreement with the City of Joliet.

Several other Chicago suburban cities had left the network, and Joliet signing onto Chicago is a big deal
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 23/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago This deal will add $10m to the city water fund
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 24/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago The cities water system is currently at 40% capacity. It costs about the same at 4000 at it does at 4,000,000 and thus the more customers the better the funding for the system.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 25/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Jennie Bennet says a combination of federal funds, the joliet agreement, and several other financial mechanisms, the city has funded the lead pipe replacement project for the next 20 years.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 26/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Currently the Chicago Water system serves around $5.3m people

Ald. La Spata asks if we are selling access to our infrastructure or a portion of our great lakes allotment.

Bennet confirms it is the former.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 27/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Ald. Ervin asks if we are paying the same rate as other villages, and if we are, what is that and why is that.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 28/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago The new rate system is an AWWA rate. Which Bennet says wont kick in till 2030, and will be fairly similar to the rate that Chicagoans pay.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 29/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago The AWWA basically is a "Pay what you use" and includes that you are paying for the pumping stations/filtration systems that your water is coming through.

This encourages cities to use water more efficiently.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 30/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Ald. Ervin says that he doesn't think that Chicago residents should pay more, and asks to consider restricting water imports between states. (We had major competition with Hammond on this water deal).

Bennet clarifies that Chicago Residents will pay less if anything
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 31/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Ald Sposato thanks Bennet as she is "probably on her way out"

Bennet takes a point of privilege and thanks the committee for their work over the last 4 years.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 32/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago The agreement passes.

We move onto the West Humbold Park development.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 33/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago Tamra Collins from the Department of Housing is up to testify and walks through the proposal. It is looking for $18.7

Ald. Mitts whose ward it is testifies in favor of it. She makes fun of Ald. Burnett ("even though its not in his ward, its just across the street"
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 34/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago The motion passes unanimously.

We now move to Item 2 The Utility Billing Relief Program (Otherwise known as water for all) this is a subject matter hearing.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 35/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata is up. He talks on the length of the process to get here. The resolution was rejected a few years ago, and was modified.

The resolution that stands is a compromise based on feedback that La Spata says he thinks we can do.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 36/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata La Spata says that the cost for ratepayers has increased 304 % (or 403%) since 2007.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 37/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata He says that the median cost as a percent of income in Woodlawn in non-metered accounts was 45%. 45% of your income going towards water, in Englewood that is 32%.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 38/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata La Spata said that when he asked for the total fiscal impact of reduced water rates, in 2021 the program cost $3.1m , total enterprise fund for water program, during that year was $795m, in that same year there was a $22m surplus.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 39/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata Matthew Cason from @ChicagoDSA is up. The bill as structured will provide relief to residents who fulfil payment plans for a year, as well as other mechanisms, to lower the bills for those in need.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 40/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA Cason says that cost is only based on what the city will not collect in income, suggests that the program could potentially increase revenue as current non paying residents, might pay at a smaller level, referencing a similar program in Baltimore that saw revenue increase.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 41/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA There are no questions on the resolution itself, which supporters hope to push to pass soon.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 42/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA Now we move to Item 4. This is a loan restructuring agreement with Parkside Terrace Apartments. From the Department of Housing we have Michelle Adams.

The project extend the date of maturity for several loans.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 43/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA Ald. Ervin, manages to be duel-wielding meetings, responding to a question and voting while also confirming that Ald. Taliafero who had to be absent supported the agreement.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 44/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA Next up is the 4713 North Western site. This is the new construction of a 63 unit affordable site. It will be a TOD , with 32 parking spaces, and will have commercial buildings on the ground level.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 46/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA Ald. Ervin asks for the total development costs.

The member from the DoF says its about a $48m developer

Ald Tunney asks about the land appraisal which was apparently around $2.9m
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 47/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA The DoF says that the land is actually a benefit here, because the land is used by the developer to get a donation tax credit that is used in the construction cost .
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 48/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA The site will be 1/3 30% AMI, 1/3 60% AMI, and 1/3 80% AMI as per Matt Martin.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 49/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA Alderman @AldMattMartin , says that this is a direct introduction because the time is tight due to the expiration of the North Western TIF district.

This has been one of his biggest projects in his current tenure.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 51/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Next up Terrance Johnson from DPD speaks on the site on 4730 North Sheridan Road which is looking for $5m in TIF funding.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 52/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin The developer is CircEsteem, a circus arts youth non profit.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 53/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Ald. Tunney is up. He asks about the square footage, which is 17k

He says that it seems like a lot of funding, (total of $10,2m) for the square footage.

Johnson from DPD doesn't seem to be sure if the developer has acquired the building (they have)
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 54/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin The ED from CircEsteem is up. He says the acquired the building last year. He says the cost of the building comes from the external restoration of the facade, differed maintaince, and internal build out.

Tunney says that this is almost 600$/Sqft
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 55/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Ald. Lee asks a bunch of questions on budget, where the funding comes from, and their number of served students.

The ED says that the budget is $2m a year, they serve 250 students year around, and more in the summer. Their funding is a 65-35 donated/earned split
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 56/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Next up is the proposal to redevelop the site at 4341 S Cottage Grove. They are looking for 6 m, which are 26% of their costs.

This will be to redevelop the Lillian Marcie theater. The site will require the organization continue to operate and run shows for the next 10 years
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 58/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Next up we got item 9. This is for redeveloping the Aspire Center at 5500 West Madison.

They are looking for 12.250 m
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 59/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Michael Grella from DPD is up to talk on the site.

The site will provide educational and community benefits, and will focus on job training.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 60/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin All the Austin alders are in support of the project. It passes
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 61/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Ryan Slatterly from DPD is up to talk about an amendment to the Madison-Austin Corridor which is being extended for another 12 years. All this does is have the district end date meet the state set end date (which was just extended 12 years).
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 63/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin We now have the Redevelopment agreement for $5m in tax funds for around the Ashland/W 47th street area.

Johnson from DPD is up.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 64/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin This project will span $58m over 4 phases. This is phase 1B The first phase includes revitalizing the Goldblatt’s building into a 14,000-square-foot, federally qualified health center and 7,200 square foot of locally owned retail space.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 66/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin This passes unanimously. This is the ordinance for TIF funded renovations of Winnemac Park

Both O'Reilly from the parks district is up. They are looking for $2m in TIF
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 67/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin This will include major drainage issues solutions, and turf fields, and the tennis courts will be resurfaced.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 69/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Then there are the small claims, and settlements from the past month which pass without issue. With that we close.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 70/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Next up is a settlement of Swart v City of Chicago. For $205k
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 71/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Swart wanted to conduct street preaching and literature hand outs.

Several times they were told by park security that this violated their rules.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 72/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin This court case focused on rules that limited access to giving speeches and handing out literature.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 73/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin A preliminary injunction was granted to the street preachers, Millenium park changed its rules, and the case has largely been thrown out. However, the last bit is the need to litigate attorneys fees and damages from the initial case.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 74/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin $185k - attorneys fees
$20k - damages

This is the current settlement that is being proposed.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 75/76
@CHIdocumenters @BlackrootsChi @SOULInChicago @DanielLaSpata @ChicagoDSA @AldMattMartin Ald. Moore asks about how much has been spent.
The Department of Law rep says that this has been done in house so no cost there.
Chris Gentry @TheChrisGentry_ 76/76


By Grace Del Vecchio 4/17/2023

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Chicago City Council

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