Pensions & TIF in DeKalb


Except in the case of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts, DeKalb’s property taxes go toward pensions and FICA almost exclusively, and its share of your annual property tax bill is about 7%. Using these facts along with TIF revenue data, I set out to estimate how much city property tax flows into TIF funds that might otherwise have gone to city pensions.

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You should know I used the DeKalb County’s data, not city records; the two differ because what’s levied is not exactly the same as what actually gets collected. Likewise, the proportion of a resident’s property taxes that goes to the city isn’t precisely 7%. So when I say estimates I do mean estimates.

Still, they form a respectable ballpark; and when the property taxes that go into TIF funds (aka “the increments”) are compared to the city’s “regular” property tax levies (from which I subtracted anything that didn’t apply to pensions, such as airport levies) it’s clear that if there were no TIF districts but everything else stayed the same, somewhere in the neighborhood of 14% more property tax revenue would go toward pension contributions.

Another possibility is that without TIF, our city property taxes would be about 14% lower.