CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s TIF Task Force got an earful from the public Thursday night.

The panel is charged with re-vamping the Tax Increment Financing program, which redirects property tax money with the intention of reinvesting it in blighted communities.

But as WBBM Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports, the problem, said speaker after speaker at the historic Bronzeville Armory, 3533 S. Giles Ave., the money often hasn’t gone where it was supposed to go — to blighted communities.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mike Krauser reports

Chicago TIF districts generate about $500 million a year. But the TIF program has been maligned for decades.

In a TIF district, property tax dollars for schools, parks, and other taxing districts are frozen for at least 23 years, so that all property tax increases afterward to go into a fund to improve struggling neighborhoods.

But on retired Mayor Richard M. Daley’s watch, a lot of TIF money went to private business and downtown developers.

Critics, most notably Chicago Reader columnist Ben Joravsky, say TIFs amount to a slush fund for the mayor. Joravsky has been writing articles criticizing the TIF program for several years.

At the Thursday night hearing, Sheila Carter said Bronzeville has not benefited from more than $100 million generated by TIFs in the neighborhood.

“Do not raid our local Bronzeville TIFs,” Carter said. “Do not call our money surplus.”

Diane Leamus, of Albany Park specified what she thought was a better use for TIF money.

“Rehabbing foreclosed properties is a legitimate use of TIF funds,” she said.

Brian Malone, of the Kenwood-Oakland community said a change in policy for the TIF program is mandated.

“What’s going to fix this problem is the City of Chicago using our money that we pay into the system to fix this problem,” he said.