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TIF subsidy used in Jones College Prep expansion

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has come under criticism for not helping the beleaguered school system by freeing up funds held in tax-increment financing accounts. The schools, however, have gotten some benefits from TIF, and Emanuel orchestrated an appearance to make that point.

He and schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett visited Jones College Prep in the South Loop to tout an expansion that will nearly double the number of students at the nationally ranked high school. The appearance on Aug. 20 was noted for Emanuel’s snub of the local alderman, Robert Fioretti (2nd), who has urged the mayor to use TIF to bail out the schools.

Emanuel said Jones’ expansion was made possible by $115 million in TIF money, part of the $600 million he said is in the TIF pipeline for school improvements.

The allocation for Jones comes from the city’s Near South TIF, one of the richest. City documents show the fund had $70.35 million on hand at the end of last year. Officials project that sum to be $55.37 million this year and $62.72 million late in 2014.

The money for Jones is easily the largest improvement project planned in the TIF.

The information is included in the city’s projection reports for all its TIFs covering planned expenses through 2014. Those reports are available here.