St. Clair County residents, did you get your property tax bill in the mail last week?
If you wonder why your tax burden is so heavy, part of the reason may be tax increment financing.
Many politicians in cities and villages that have TIFs spend a lot of time telling people that TIFs don't increase taxes. But the yellow flier from the county in with the tax bill tells a different tale.
Of the $324.3 million in property taxes collected in St. Clair County in 2013, $42.1 million -- 13 percent -- went to TIFs. Only schools got more money than TIFs. Townships, road districts and fire protection districts combined still got less than TIFs.
If TIFs went away tomorrow, tax bills would go down. The taxes collected are in addition to other taxes, not in lieu of them.
Politicians also contend that TIFs are an important economic tool, despite an East-West Gateway Council of Governments study that found otherwise. But like them or hate them, it's important to know that they come at a $42 million cost to county taxpayers for just one year.