CPS To Raise Property Taxes The Maximum

For the second year in a row, Chicago Public School officials under Mayor Rahm Emanuel will raise property taxes for schools to the maximum allowed by law, yielding the cash-strapped system $41 million.

The 1.5 percent increase should cost the average homeowner $28 a year, school officials said Wednesday.

via Chicago Sun-Times.

Well isn’t this interesting.  We’ll see if CPS teachers, a/k/a the CTU, want to strike this year.  I suppose homeowners won’t be getting their second installment of their tax bills until after the election (it always works that way.)  So they won’t see just how much money goes to CTU CPS from their outrageous property taxes unless the strike goes into November.  … Dare to dream.

City Hall’s New TIF Troubles

This story is actually from early April:

According to a report issued today by Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson, a fluke of state law means that many neighboring business districts that collect an extra property tax to pay for security, advertising and the like actually have had to pay twice — once for security, et al., and once to the TIF.

The report specifically deals with Special Service Areas: little neighborhood shopping districts such as Lincoln/Belmont/Ashland, South Shore, Greektown and Wicker Park/Bucktown in which the shop owners agree to impose an extra tax on themselves to pay for things of mutual interest. …

The problem is that 80 percent of the city’s more than 60 SSAs also overlap wholly or partially with TIF districts.

The way a TIF district works is that property taxes are frozen at a current level, with the TIF getting the growth over the next 23 years — known as increment — to spend on TIF projects. But when an SSA levies an additional tax for its needs, the amount of the levy is imposed both on the old base levy and the increment.

In other words, to help themselves, merchants have to pay twice. And that’s amounted to an extra $7.5 million to TIFs last year and about $7 million in preceding years, according to Mr. Ferguson.

via Crain’s Chicago Business.

Man I really hate TIFs.

FYI, You CAN Cheat on Your Property Taxes

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Assessor Joe Berrios on Tuesday urged state lawmakers to give them more power to go after property owners who improperly claim tax breaks, saying they could recover more than $150 million in three years with the new authority.

Under legislation pending in Springfield, counties could go after back taxes from people who have wrongly received homestead exemptions. The tax break should only be applied to a property owner’s primary residence, but people often also claim it for rental properties, vacation homes and secondary residences. Other property owners get inappropriate property tax reductions for being a senior citizen, disabled person or disabled veteran.

People who claimed multiple improper homestead exemptions also would be fined a percentage of their unpaid taxes, and the county could place liens on the properties to try to compel property owners to pay up.

via Chicago Tribune.


So let me get this straight… right now, I could file for a homestead and senior freeze exemptions on properties I own but don’t live at and despite the fact that I’m not a senior?

How stupid are the politicians in Springfield?  They grant all these exemptions but provide no way to enforce them.  This would be funny if not so sad.

Of course, there is someone who can do something about it; two in fact.  Both women… both lawyers… both elected to put bad people — like people who lie on government documents — in jail and fine them.

So rather than pushing for new laws, why doesn’t the county just ask Anita Alvarez to file charges against these people?  And if she’s too busy, Lisa Madigan could take some of the cases.

Of course both Alvarez and Madigan are too busy doing nothing.
So instead Preckwinkle and Berrios are asking for another new law so they can hire more government workers to police this new law.

$50 million a year in new revenue… $50 million a year in new expenses for staff and pensions.  The taxpayer will end up with nothing.

How Retirement Benefits May Sink Illinois

We’re national news again.

…  Indiana’s debt for unfunded retiree health-care benefits, for example, amounts to just $81 per person. Neighboring Illinois’s accumulated obligations for the same benefit average $3,399 per person.

Illinois is an object lesson in why firms are starting to pay more attention to the long-term fiscal prospects of communities. Early last year, the state imposed $7 billion in new taxes on residents and business, pledging to use the money to eliminate its deficit and pay down a backlog of unpaid bills (to Medicaid providers, state vendors and delayed tax refunds to businesses). But more than a year later, the state is in worse fiscal shape, with its total deficit expected to increase to $5 billion from $4.6 billion, according to an estimate by the Civic Federation of Chicago.

Rising pension costs will eat up much of the tax increase. Illinois borrowed money in the last two years to make contributions to its public pension funds. This year, under pressure to stop adding to its debt, the legislature must make its pension contributions out of tax money. That will cost $4.1 billion plus an additional $1.6 billion in interest payments on previous pension borrowings.

Business leaders are now speaking openly about Illinois’ fiscal failures. Jim Farrell, the former CEO of Illinois Toolworks who is heading a budget reform effort called Illinois Is Broke, said last year that the state is squandering its inherent advantages as a business location because “all the other good stuff doesn’t make up for the [fiscal] calamity that’s on the way.” Caterpillar, the giant Peoria-based maker of heavy construction machinery, made the same point more vividly when it declined in February to locate a new factory in Illinois, specifically citing concern about the state’s “business climate and overall fiscal health.”

via WSJ.

How bad is it going to be?

Back in Illinois, Dana Levenson, Chicago’s former chief financial officer, has projected that the average city homeowner paying $3,000 in annual property taxes could see his tax bill rise within five years as much as $1,400. The reason: A 2010 Illinois law requires municipalities to raise the funding levels in their pension systems using property tax revenues but no additional contributions from government employees. The legislation prompted former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley in December to warn residents that the increases might be so high, “you won’t be able to sell your house.”

We’re in trouble.

Local media is still ignoring.  National media starting to ring the bell.