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AFP-IL Submits FOIA Request to Investigate Taxpayer Support for Chicago Bears Stadium Project

Sep 15, 2022 by AFP

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL — Americans for Prosperity – Illinois (AFP-IL) today submitted an Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Village of Arlington Heights to investigate the use of corporate welfare programs for the Chicago Bears stadium and other economic development projects.

The Village operates at least five different corporate welfare programs, in addition to four Tax Increment Financing districts, but there is little transparency on how much these programs cost taxpayers or if they are accomplishing their stated goals. The lack of transparency for these programs is especially troubling now that the Chicago Bears, a team with an estimated value of $5.8 billion, are likely asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in special tax treatment.

AFP-IL Deputy State Director Brian Costin released the following statement:

Arlington Heights is proposing the largest corporate welfare deal in Village history for a billionaire owner in the richest sports entertainment company in the world. Not only is this special treatment unfair to residents and other business owners, but a vast majority of economists polled on sports stadium subsidies found them to be a bad deal for taxpayers. Village officials have promised they won’t make the mistakes other communities have when it comes to these deals, but how can we trust them when they don’t adequately account for the corporate welfare programs they already have.

“It is critical that we get more information about this deal and the Village’s existing corporate welfare programs, and that’s why we submitted a robust FOIA request today. The fact that this information was not readily available on the Village website shows the need for the Anti-Corporate Welfare Ordinance to protect taxpayers.”

Read AFP-IL’s FOIA request HERE.

A partial investigation found a lack of institutional control and transparency over existing corporate welfare programs in the following areas.

  • No annual accounting of the Village’s 5 non-TIF district corporate welfare programs. No disclosure of how much the programs cost taxpayers or evidence supporting their continued usage.
  • Missing crucial TIF Annual Report accountability information asked by the state of Illinois including equalized assessed value, job creation and retention information, and maps of the TIF district areas.
  • Lack of compliance with Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 77 which “requires disclosure of tax abatement information about (1) a reporting government’s own tax abatement agreements and (2) those that are entered into by other governments and that reduce the reporting government’s tax revenues.” This includes no disclosure of a recent $9.8 million property tax abatement for an Amazon warehouse.

BACKGROUND:

AFP-IL’s draft ordinance banning corporate welfare programs can be found HERE.

AFP-IL’s public opinion poll found that 68% of Arlington Heights voters disapprove of supporting the project with taxpayer dollars, compared to only 22% support. The poll also found strong support for AFP-IL’s proposed Anti-Corporate Welfare Ordinance, which would prohibit the Village from using taxpayer funds to help build a stadium or other corporate welfare programs, by a 55%–30% margin. Read the ARW Strategies poll HERE.