Chicago City Wire

Chicago City Wire

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Chicago debt goes on wild roller coaster ride, group contends

Local Government

By Karen Kidd | Aug 31, 2017

Chicago navy pier2(1000)

Unless Chicago has crafted some kind of magic financial wand, its debt numbers have been doing some weird things in the last few years, a government oversight group suggests.

"The City of Chicago’s spending has run significantly ahead of tax and other revenue in the last decade," Truth In Accounting (TIA) reported recently. "The growth rate in its reported debt accelerated sharply after the end of (Chicago Mayor) Richard M. Daley’s last year as mayor (2009)."

The city's interest expense reportedly jumped from $400 million during then-Mayor Daley's reign to more than $850 million in 2015, according to the TIA report. The rate then suddenly dropped below $500 million in 2016, the TIA said.

TIA, known for its debt clock, is a Chicago-based nonpartisan and nonprofit organization founded in 2002 to "compel governments to produce financial reports that are understandable, reliable, transparent and correct," according to its website.

The trend continued in 2016 for the city's projected debt service requirement for its general obligation, tax increment, revenue bond, and business-type activity, according to the report, which also provides a chart showing Chicago's interest debt service requirement during those periods.

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