Emanuel calls for nearly $600 million property tax hike

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel AP/File
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel AP/File
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel AP/File
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel AP/File

Emanuel calls for nearly $600 million property tax hike

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will ask aldermen Tuesday to sign onto a nearly $600 million property tax hike.

Emanuel’s office confirmed Monday that the mayor will propose a $544 million increase that would go toward the city’s severely underfunded police and fire pension fund. That’s on top of an additional $45 million property tax increase for school construction the mayor is asking the city council to support.

“On so many fronts, Chicago has made great progress by challenging the status quote,” Emanuel said in a statement. “But as we continue to grow our economy, create jobs and attract families and business to Chicago, our fiscal challenges are blocking our path to even greater success.”

Emanuel’s solution to those challenges will include:

—A phased-in property tax increase starting in 2015 and going through 2018. The mayor’s office says these funds would only be used for police and fire pensions. Technically, homeowners would pay the first increase next summer, on the 2nd installment of their tax bill for 2015. Here’s the breakdown of the proposed increases per tax year:

  • 2015   $318 million
  • 2016   $109 million
  • 2017   $53 million
  • 2018   $63 million

—An expanded homeowners’ exemption to ease the pain. The mayor has been working with the Democratic leadership in Springfield to expand the tax exemption, which would allow any resident with a home valued at $250,000 or less to be exempt from paying additional property taxes for police and fire pensions.

—The “School Modernization Property Tax Levy” being considered by the city council this week, which CPS has already voted to approve. The mayor’s office says the additional $45 million would be used to help overcrowded schools, install air-conditioning in every classroom and other capital repairs.

—Taxing e-cigarettes: 25 cents per milliliter of e-liquid and $1.25 per container of e-liquid. A “container” includes single-use e-cigarettes, replacement cartridges or bottles of e-liquid. This is estimated to generate $1 million in revenue in 2016.

—A $9.50 monthly fee for garbage pickup, though seniors on a “limited budget” would be eligible for a 50 percent discount

—Allowing ride-sharing companies to pickup and drop off customers at both airports, Navy Pier and McCormick place, if they pay a $5 surcharge to the city. The mayor is also pitching an increase of “per trip” fees: rideshare trips will increase from 30 cents per trip to 50 cents, and a 50 cent fee will be added to taxi rides as well. That’s estimated to bring in $60 million in 2016, $48 million more than in 2015.

—$170 million in savings and reforms, including eliminating 150 vacant positions and putting street sweeping on a grid system.

In his budget address on Tuesday the mayor is also planning to propose:

—Moving 319 police officers out of administrative positions and deployed to the streets.

—A $2 million investment over 4 years for new CPS based health clinics

—A $500 million investment to replace 90 miles of water lines, 72 miles of sewer lines and installing 14,000 sewer structures and 20,000 water meters

—A 15 percent increase on cab fares.
Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian