Following calls for delay from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot , a vote on controversial tax packages totaling about $2 billion to help pay for huge developments on the North Side and in the South Loop won’t take place until at least Wednesday, the chairman of the powerful Finance Committee that’s considering the plan said Monday.
A vote on the plan had been expected Monday morning, but then Lightfoot and Emanuel both made public calls to hold off for further consideration.
But Ald. Brian Hopkins, 2nd, whose ward includes the Lincoln Yards site, said aldermen should vote on the TIF for the project in spite of Emanuel’s call for the delay. He said he expected the Finance Committee to approve the deals Monday despite what Emanuel and Lightfoot said.
“The mayor’s not on the Finance Committee,” Hopkins said.
Nevertheless, as the Finance Committee meeting started, Ald. Patrick O’Connor said he planned to only take testimony Monday, then reconvene Wednesday to potentially vote on the TIFs then. The full City Council meets Wednesday.
“And then we will recess the meeting until Wednesday morning, hoping that the 48 hours between now and then will allow representatives of both the mayor’s office and the mayor-elect’s office to determine if there’s been enough information given to allow the projects to move forward at that time,” O’Connor, 40th and the committee chairman, said.
It remains to be seen whether a 48-hour delay, followed by passage of the deal during the waning days of Emanuel’s term, assuages the concerns of Lightfoot and affordable housing advocates who’ve opposed the deal .
Earlier Monday, Emanuel had said he wanted to delay the vote.
“In our first meeting, as well as in subsequent conversations, I made it very clear to the mayor-elect that I would not move forward on these projects if she wanted to delay the process,” Emanuel said in a statement. “While I firmly believe in the value of these projects to the entire city, out of respect for her wishes and request, I will honor my commitment and delay the vote. I am hopeful that under the mayor-elect’s leadership of the new City Council these critical projects will move forward and bring the kind of investment and job creation that has been a hallmark of the past eight years.”
Hopkins, though wanted to go ahead anyway.
“I don’t believe there’s a single alderman on the Finance Committee who’s undecided,” Hopkins said. “They’ve all made up their minds. They’ve had sufficient time and information to make up their minds. So let’s see where they’re at. Let’s have a vote.”
If aldermen had defied Lightfoot on Monday and passed the package over her objections, it would have been an early shot across the new mayor’s bow in what was already shaping up to be a potentially rocky relationship between her and the 50-member body. Hopkins said he doesn’t see it that way, but questioned how the mayor-elect has handled the situation. “I don’t feel like I’m getting off on the wrong foot. I haven’t talked to her,” Hopkins said. “I’ve had no conversations with her. I’ve reached out to her. She hasn’t called me back.”
“I’m prepared to work with Mayor Lightfoot on a variety of issues going forward, but today, she has not done the one thing that you would expect her to do if she wanted this to be delayed, and that’s call the alderman whose ward contains this project and ask me, or have a discussion with me. That hasn’t happened.”
Late Sunday night, Lightfoot had announced that she wanted O’Connor to have a discussion only on the matter and not vote. On Friday, O’Connor said he would wait to see whether Lightfoot and Emanuel could reach agreement on whether to hold the vote. “I know that any discussions that relate to projects that are pending are the topic of discussions that are being had, and that’s at a higher pay grade than mine,” he said.
Emanuel has defended the tax subsidy plans, saying the huge developments will be major tax boons to the financially struggling city and the infrastructure upgrades will be beneficial to lots of Chicagoans.
Lightfoot has said she wants to look at the proposed deals herself once she’s in office.
“From day one, I have raised concerns about these deals and the deeply flawed process that has led us to this moment,” Lightfoot said in her statement. “That’s why I’m calling for the committee meeting (Monday) to be a transparent and fulsome subject matter hearing to address questions including consequences for other TIF districts, affordable housing options, plans for minority- and women-owned businesses, and impacts on diversity, population density, schools, traffic, and other factors. For major development projects to drive equitable economic growth, they must be coupled with community input and a transparent, informed decision-making process.
The TIF money for Lincoln Yards and The 78 have drawn intense criticism because the developments are in prosperous parts of the city where activists contend the developers should be made to pay for infrastructure improvements like new bridges themselves rather than relying on a subsidy that pulls tax funds out of Chicago public schools and other agencies that need the money.
The Lincoln Yards project is in line for about $1.3 billion in TIF money and The 78 would get about $700 million.
Related Midwest spokeswoman Tricia Van Horn and Sterling Bay spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton declined to comment Monday morning.
Chicago Tribune’s Ryan Ori contributed.
This content was originally published here.