WBEZ | property taxes http://www.wbez.org/tags/property-taxes Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Illinois high court upholds school funding system http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-high-court-upholds-school-funding-system-104112 <p><p>The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld a decision to toss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state&#39;s system of funding public school districts largely through property taxes.</p><p>The high court issued its unanimous opinion Thursday, agreeing with a lower court ruling.</p><p>Hundreds of public school districts are funded mostly through property taxes. The state sets minimum per student funding levels with specified tax rates for each district.</p><p>The 2010 lawsuit argued some residents in poorer districts whose property is worth less must pay a higher tax rate to reach funding levels of those in wealthier school districts. It called that unconstitutional and unfair.</p><p>Thursday&#39;s opinion says local communities themselves determine the tax rate. And it says any disparities that result aren&#39;t a direct result of the state&#39;s funding statute.</p></p> Thu, 29 Nov 2012 14:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-high-court-upholds-school-funding-system-104112 At Emanuel budget forum, TIF question raises roof http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-budget-forum-tif-question-raises-roof-91374 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-01/Rahm2.JPG_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The questions Wednesday night ranged from potholes to bus fares, from school-day hours to traffic-aide layoffs. But nothing roused the crowd like the city’s 165 tax-increment-financing districts, which draw off half-a-billion property-tax dollars a year for economic development.</p><p>About 700 people overflowed a gym at Malcolm X College on Chicago’s West Side for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s second public meeting on a city budget gap he says will top $635 million.</p><p>Ashley Moy-Wooten of the Chicago-based Grassroots Collaborative told the mayor too many TIF dollars have gone to big companies like United Airlines.</p><p>“Would you commit to not giving any money to these giant corporations?” she asked, provoking the evening’s biggest round of applause. “And would you commit to shutting down these downtown TIFs?”</p><p>Emanuel made no promises but said it was “wrong” for the big companies to get TIF funds when neighborhoods were suffering. “I can’t reverse the past,” the mayor added. “I have to shape the future. That’s why I created a new standard that we finally have.”</p><p>Emanuel said a TIF overhaul proposed this week by a panel he appointed would bring more transparency and jobs.</p><p>The 90-minute forum followed a similar event Monday evening at Kennedy-King College on the city’s South Side.</p></p> Thu, 01 Sep 2011 05:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-budget-forum-tif-question-raises-roof-91374 The Paper Machete Radio Magazine 8/27/11: The Getting Screwed Episode http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-31/paper-machete-radio-magazine-82711-getting-screwed-episode-91301 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2011-August/2011-08-31/briarrabbit.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-31/kellykleiman.jpg" style="width: 500px; height: 333px;" title="Kelly Kleiman (Photo by Ali Weiss Klinger)"></p><p>We at Paper Machete have a new theme song this week -- it's "Pickin' Up the Pieces" by Fitz &amp; the Tantrums -- and lots of stories about and for people who just aren't getting what they should.</p><p>On our most recent episode, <strong>Kim Bellware</strong> talks about Syl Johnson, whose song "Different Strokes" wasn't cleared to be sampled on Kanye West and Jay Z's new album <em>Watch the Throne</em>.</p><p><strong>Kelly Kleiman</strong> discusses how some MAJOR Chicago institutions aren't paying property taxes and why-on-earth they'd do such a thing.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Shannon Cason</strong> goes to the Southside and fills us in on&nbsp;the Moo and Oink grill, and food deserts.</p><p>And <strong>Briar Rabbit</strong> wraps things up with some tunes.&nbsp;</p><p>As usual, if you can hear us, this magazine is LIVE.&nbsp;Download it&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=450280345" style="color: rgb(0, 104, 150);" target="_blank">here</a>, or listen below.</p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483704-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/2011-08-27-thepapermachete-radio-magazine.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><div style="word-wrap: break-word;"><p>And this coming Saturday promises to be an exciting one -- we have <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0842140/">Julia Sweene</a>y, SNL alum and very funny lady. Chad Briggs from <a href="http://www.chicagoundergroundcomedy.com/">Chicago Underground Comedy</a> will be there; Erin Shea Smith, author of<a href="http://www.amazon.com/Tales-Scale-Erin-J-Shea/dp/1593373287"><em> Tales from the Scale</em></a>; Phil Dawkins, <em>The Paper Machete</em> "Culture Schlock" reporter who combines arts &amp; crafts with skewering pop cultural analysis; Stephanie McCanles of <a href="http://thecancershow.com/"><em>The Cancer Show</em></a>; Bond Benton of the <a href="http://www.palookajournal.com/">Palooka Journal</a>, and <a href="http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3694753/">Michael Patrick Thornton</a> of ABC's <em>Private Practice</em>, and The Gift Theatre. And finally, Paper Thick Walls will serenade us with the sweet sweet songs of the end of summer.</p><p>Additionally, if you liked what you heard at the end of this week's podcast (or even if you didn't, just suck it up), head to <a href="http://lincolnhallchicago.com/">Lincoln Hall</a> tonight for more Briar Rabbit.</p><div style="word-wrap: break-word; text-align: left;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-August/2011-08-31/briarrabbit.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="Briar Rabbit (Photo by Ali Weiss Klinger)"></div></div></p> Wed, 31 Aug 2011 13:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-08-31/paper-machete-radio-magazine-82711-getting-screwed-episode-91301 Emanuel defends proposed property-tax hike for schools http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-defends-proposed-property-tax-hike-schools-90330 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-09/Emanuel_3.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised to take on City Hall’s budget gap without raising taxes. But he’s taking a different tack with red ink at the school district he controls.<br> <br> Emanuel on Tuesday defended a $150 million property-tax hike proposed by Chicago Public Schools last week.<br> <br> “We’ve got to make the tough choices,” Emanuel told reporters.<br> <br> The mayor praised the school district for trying to balance the books without packing more kids into classrooms. “We’ve not only protected the classroom, we’ve expanded educational choices and opportunities for the parents that rely on the school system,” Emanuel said.<br> <br> Emanuel pointed to new charter schools and additional funds for magnet schools, full-day kindergarten, a teacher-training academy and security cameras.<br> <br> The schools budget also includes hundreds of millions of dollars of program cuts affecting students. The reductions range from staffing at “turnaround” high schools to a dual-language pilot program.<br> <br> The district is also trimming its central office. “I have no tolerance for an overblown bureaucracy,” Emanuel said.<br> <br> But some Chicago aldermen say school officials should cut more spending before turning to homeowners and renters.<br> <br> CPS says the owner of a $250,000 home would pay about $84 more each year and that property-tax payers would face a separate levy for school construction.<br> <br> Asked whether the city could do anything to shift school funding away from the property tax, Emanuel stuck to the theme of his news conference: economic development. He said he was trying to generate revenue by encouraging job creation.</p></p> Wed, 10 Aug 2011 04:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/emanuel-defends-proposed-property-tax-hike-schools-90330 Gary's property tax nightmare http://www.wbez.org/story/garys-property-tax-nightmare-89631 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-25/Holland Stansil of Gary and his son.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Cities and towns of every size and scope are scrambling to make ends meet lately. Some are raising property taxes to pay for services, things like keeping cops on the beat and educating kids.&nbsp;Gary, Indiana, is in that situation, but it’s in a tangle. First, the state won’t let the city raise property taxes and, what’s worse, a good chunk of the public’s not paying up anyway.</p><p>It’s that time of year when local governments in Northwest Indiana review their budgets to see what they can or can’t pay in the coming months.&nbsp;So, government entities - cities, schools, sanitary districts - are all playing a kind of budgeting game, and it goes like this:&nbsp;The county sends out property tax bills, and the governments hope to collect, but they don’t collect 100 percent of what’s due.</p><p>CAMPBELL: You can never really set the budget at the level that you’d like in order to provide the services for your students because you’re really not certain of what will occur.<br> <br> That’s Myrtle Campbell, superintendent of Gary’s public school system.<br> <br> CAMPBELL: You try to do an estimate to ensure that you’re not cutting those programs that are dear to our children and their individual needs.<br> <br> The problem is, the lower the property tax collection rate, the higher the risk to Gary’s own city government, its public schools, its libraries, even its sewers.&nbsp;The low collection rate is starving these governments.&nbsp;It’s one reason Gary’s laid off firefighters, garbage collection crews.. In all, some 400 city employees in the last five years. &nbsp;<br> <br> And the school district?&nbsp;Well, let’s say the low tax collection rate has got Campbell sweating this summer.<br> <br> CAMPBELL: Anytime it’s below the 80 percent or 90 percent, of course it does affect our tax-based funds. &nbsp;Then, dollars that are coming from that fund to support programs, then there’s a downsizing of those programs as well.<br> <br> Here’s the practical effect: This summer alone, Campbell’s had to ditch a music band camp and other activities involving science, health and mathematics.&nbsp;She’s made some layoffs already and she’s considering more because she’s dealing with a $13 million budget deficit.&nbsp;If the collection rate were high, she could breathe easier.<br> <br> But like it does in most years, the county is expected to collect less from Gary property owners than it does from any other city in the county.<br> <br> The exact figure is&nbsp;72.4 percent, the&nbsp;worst of any Indiana city or town.&nbsp;And, if you do a deeper dive into the numbers, you find nearly all businesses in Gary pay their taxes,&nbsp;but one in three Gary homeowners does not.<br> <br> This figure doesn’t surprise Darien Hayes of Gary’s Ambridge neighborhood, but it still disappoints her.<br> <br> DARIEN HAYES: You can’t live anywhere else close by and not pay your property taxes. The city entities and the municipalities just won’t let you do that but we let it happen here. They need to pay some measures in place to make them pay their fair share.<br> <br> Fifteen years ago, Darien and her husband Russell built their gem of a two-story brick home just a few blocks from a stretch of bordered up houses.<br> <br> What galls them is that they’re paying $4,000 a year in property taxes while living in Gary.&nbsp;If they lived in a more affluent city, they’d pay half as much and get more services.&nbsp;Darien Hayes says she sends her daughter out of Gary for summer activities, and they drive her 15 miles to school because the local elementary got shut down.<br> <br> DARIEN: Not happy. We’re not happy. RUSSELL: The city has constantly taken away services from us. So many different things that we do not get for the tax dollars that we pay.<br> <br> Darien’s husband Russell has a theory about why the county collects so little property tax in Gary.<br> <br> RUSSELL HAYES: If they don’t pay, they simply don’t pay. There are no things set in place to say if you don’t pay we’re going to take ownership of that property. They simply don’t do it. Apparently it’s not important enough around here.<br> <br> The full truth is a bit harder to get a handle on.&nbsp;Yes, county and city officials say there are property tax scofflaws, but economic figures suggest Gary has a fair number of property owners who can’t pay.&nbsp;Gary’s unemployment rate is 13.1 percent, or five percent higher than the rest of Indiana.<br> <br> STANSIL: If they don’t have the money or don’t have a job, what else can you do?<br> <br> Holland Stansil says he can sympathize with people who are out of jobs.&nbsp;After all, he's got some income from his railroad work, and he still has problems paying his share. &nbsp;<br> <br> STANSIL: The property taxes are too high in Gary. They are putting all the property taxes on the homeowners instead of on the companies like the steel mills. I couldn’t even pay the tax bill and that helped me get behind on my mortgage too.<br> <br> People have a lot of opinions about the property tax collection problem in Gary … but ultimately, the buck stops with one elected official:&nbsp;Lake County Treasurer John Petalas.<br> <br> Petalas says he doesn’t particularly like the fact that collections from Gary are so meager compared to other areas on his watch.&nbsp;He tries to collect, but his hands are tied.<br> <br> PETALAS: You mail the bill and if they don’t pay we fine them and we go through a collection process and we put judgments on their properties and that’s as far as the law lets us go.<br> <br> Petalas says he can hit non-compliant property owners with a penalty.&nbsp;But there’s a problem with that, too.&nbsp;The penalty doesn’t have teeth, it just gets tacked onto the original tax bill and makes non-payment worse.<br> <br> Right now, if a Lake County property owner wants to pay the original tax, the owner is still held liable for the penalty.&nbsp;Petalas figures some property owners would come forward and pay something, if only he could give them a break.<br> <br> PETALAS: The law does not allow any treasurer to waive those penalties.<br> <br> So Petalas lobbied Indiana State lawmakers to approve a one-time property tax penalty “amnesty.”&nbsp;The idea’s to grab at least some of the $129 million the county leaves on the table, much of which would go to Gary.<br> <br> PETALAS: The county and all the municipalities that are losing out on this money will be able to work with these funds that they’ve been missing for years.<br> <br> But Petalas’ efforts have largely been ignored by the powers that be in the Indiana state Senate.<br> <br> PETALAS: They wouldn’t even consider it. I got a phone call her from Luke Kenley and he basically humored me on the phone for about three minutes and that was the end of that.<br> <br> KENLEY: Gary has always seen itself as a free standing state within the state of Indiana I think.<br> <br> That’s Luke Kenley, chairman of the Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee.&nbsp;Kenley’s a Republican from near Indianapolis. He’s famous for writing the law that caps Indiana property tax rates.&nbsp;That cap is now in the state’s constitution.<br> <br> Kenley says when it comes to a tax penalty amnesty, he says Lake County could do itself and Gary a favor by implementing an income tax.&nbsp;In other words, Gary should look for a fix closer to home.<br> <br> KENLEY: It would be helpful probably to have legislators from that specific area say look, here is our problem, here is a solution we’d like to pursue, and that really hasn’t happened yet on any extended basis.<br> <br> There’s no sense that the tax collection problem in the Democratic stronghold of Lake County, Indiana, and Gary specifically is going to get a lot of traction in the Republican-controlled Indiana State House.&nbsp;But Petalas isn’t giving up. &nbsp;<br> <br> PETALAS: I’ll try again next year but I think this legislature is a lot more difficult to work with than previous ones and I don’t know how far it would get. &nbsp;<br> <br> Petalas says, that’s why property tax season is such a demoralizing grind, and not just for Gary taxpayers, but for public officials who are supposed to serve them, too.</p></p> Wed, 27 Jul 2011 03:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/garys-property-tax-nightmare-89631 Suburban voters largely reject tax increase referenda http://www.wbez.org/story/suburban-voters-say-no-tax-increases-schools-84792 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-05/enseignement_01.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A majority of residents in many of Chicago's suburban communities on Tuesday said 'no' to ballot proposals that sought to increase their tax rates. In communities from far northern Lake County to far southwestern Kendall County, most voters weren't in a spending mood.</p><p>Among the referenda that went down to defeat on Tuesday were proposals to raise more funds for school districts, including Winthrop Harbor School District 1, Prospect Heights School District 23, West Northfield Elementary School District 31, Highland Park/Deerfield Community Township High School District 113, Arbor Park Elementary School District 145, Mokena School District 159, and Lockport High School District 205.&nbsp; In each case, voters rejected plans to increase tax levies or to issue new bonds.</p><p>Voters in Oak Park and Wilmette, however, bucked the prevailing trend.&nbsp; They gave a thumbs up to proposals that asked to boost the amount of tax revenues available to their local elementary school districts.&nbsp;</p><p>Oak Park District 97 won approval for a plan to increase property taxes 3.8 percent.&nbsp; Supporters say the hike will help avoid cuts to staff, as well as cuts to arts and sports programs.</p><p>Wilmette School District 39, meanwhile, prevailed in its push to raise its tax rate. The victory now paves the way for an expected $6.4 million in additional revenues to cover projected budget deficits.</p><p>But elsewhere, other units of government which had hoped to boost their revenue streams came up empty handed.</p><p>Voters in Prospect Heights rejected two separate measures. One would've increased the city's sales tax rate by five-tenths of a percent; the other would've enabled the municipality to issue more than $5 million in bonds for police pensions.</p><p>Proposals to increase tax levies for the Palos Fire District and the Olympia Fields Park District also went down to defeat on Tuesday, as did a plan to create a local sales tax in Yorkville.</p><p>In west suburban Wheaton, residents pulled the curtain down on a proposal to use $150 thousand in city funds to restore the Grand Theater.&nbsp; And in Cicero, voters simply stopped the music altogether:&nbsp; they voted to ban neighborhood block parties, although the referendum is non-binding.</p></p> Wed, 06 Apr 2011 01:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/suburban-voters-say-no-tax-increases-schools-84792 Potential payday for firefighters highlights city's long-term pension problem http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-09/potential-payday-firefighters-highlights-citys-long-term-pension-problem <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Chicago fire Getty Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>It looks like today might be a big payday for Chicago firefighters. Earlier this week the Finance Committee recommended ponying up nearly four years of back pay&mdash;some $94 million in total. Meanwhile as the city scrambles to find money for that bill, it faces an even greater financial IOU &mdash; municipal employee pension obligations.<br /><br />And the city is operating under a tight deadline. If funding of pension obligations doesn&rsquo;t increase by 2015, the city will have to raise property taxes, according to a new law signed by Governor Quinn.<br /><br />DePaul University Economics professor <a target="_blank" href="http://samson.comtech.depaul.edu/faculty/member/Thomas/Mondschean/S/">Thomas Mondschean</a> joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to break down the math.</p><p><em>Music Button: Capsula, &quot;Mindfulness Intention&quot;, from the CD Sense of a Drop, (Waveform) </em></p></p> Wed, 09 Feb 2011 15:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-09/potential-payday-firefighters-highlights-citys-long-term-pension-problem Daley: Pension reform bill is a "staggering blow" http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/daley-pension-reform-bill-staggering-blow-taxpayers <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Daley pensions.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Governor Pat Quinn won't say if he'll sign pension reform legislation passed Thursday by the Illinois state Senate. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is strongly opposed to the measure.<br /><br />The bill would cut benefits to future police officers and firefighters, while increasing city obligations to under-funded pension systems. <br /><br />Daley said that would lead to a tremendous burden on Chicago taxpayers.<br /><br />&quot;This will be a staggering blow to Chicago's property taxes,&quot; Daley said. &quot;It would be the largest property tax increase in the history of the city of Chicago during an economic crisis, an economic crisis in every home and in every job in Chicago and in the state of Illinois.&quot;</p><p>Daley said the city would owe at least an additional $550 million each year beginning in 2015.<br /><br />The legislation would require police officers and firefighters hired after January first to work until age 55, instead of 50, to receive full benefits, which would be lower. Current employees would not be affected by the bill.<br /><br />A spokesman in Senate President John Cullerton's office said follow-up legislation to address some concerns is under discussion.</p></p> Thu, 02 Dec 2010 19:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/daley-pension-reform-bill-staggering-blow-taxpayers Assessor election suggests white reformers ought not go it alone http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/assessor-election-suggests-white-reformers-ought-not-go-it-alone <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/Claypool_at_Salem.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The results of a fiercely contested Cook County election are exposing a gulf between white liberals and minority voters.<br /><br />Forrest Claypool&rsquo;s anti-machine rhetoric has proven popular over the years with white progressives. But he needed broader support to beat Democrat Joe Berrios in Tuesday&rsquo;s Cook County assessor election.<br /><br />In particular, Claypool had to do better in heavily minority neighborhoods than when he tried to unseat Cook County Board President John Stroger in 2006.<br /><br />He didn&rsquo;t do better.<br /><br />Jamiko Rose, executive director of the Organization of the Northeast, said the results show how far the progressive movement has to go. &ldquo;We need to identify the issues that different ethnic communities care about and build relationships and work on those issues,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Many community organizers say a good-government agenda isn&rsquo;t enough. They say reformers also need to focus on issues like jobs, schools and public safety.</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 22:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/african-americans/assessor-election-suggests-white-reformers-ought-not-go-it-alone Joe Berrios wins big in Cook County assessor’s race http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/joe-berrios-wins-big-cook-county-assessor%E2%80%99s-race <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2010-November/2010-11-03/Joe Berrios1CROP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Democrats across the United States are smarting after election defeats Tuesday, but the party&rsquo;s leader in Cook County is basking in victory after a bruising battle.<br /><br />Four candidates faced off to replace the retiring county assessor, Jim Houlihan.<br /><br />Forrest Claypool, an independent, raised the most money in the campaign&rsquo;s closing months and got a lot of good press. But Joe Berrios, the chair of the Cook County Democratic Party, still outpaced Claypool by more than 200,000 votes.<br /><br />Berrios said there was a lesson: &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t count us out. Don&rsquo;t count the Democratic Party out and do not count our organization out of anything.&rdquo;<br /><br />Claypool said the results showed something else. &ldquo;We just got squeezed in the middle between straight-ticket Democratic voting in the city and straight-ticket Republican voting in the suburbs,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Claypool offered a suggestion for anyone else who would take on what he called a corrupt political machine: &ldquo;Fight within the party structure.&rdquo;<br /><br />Republican Sharon Strobek-Eckersall finished third; the Green Party&rsquo;s Robert Grota, last.<br /><br />The assessor sets the value of nearly every property in the county to help determine each owner&rsquo;s taxes.</p></p> Wed, 03 Nov 2010 08:36:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago/joe-berrios-wins-big-cook-county-assessor%E2%80%99s-race