Big Tax Hike Coming For Schools

Big Tax Hike Coming For Schools

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Chicago Public Schools is looking to get 14 percent more from taxpayers this year. The district’s entire property tax levy would increase to $2.7 billion this year, up from $2.3 billion.

At a hearing Thursday, held during the day and sparsely attended, CPS Budget Manager Cameron Mock seemed to blame mostly teachers for the increase. The biggest chunk of the property tax increase is for $250 million and would go directly to the pension fund.

For decades, CPS failed to pay its contributions to the teacher pension fund, but Mock said that the biggest reasons for the district owing so much are underperforming teacher pension fund investments underperforming, and increased benefits for teachers. He also said a big problem was that the school district has been picking up 7 percent of the employee contribution to the pension fund. That’s more than other taxing bodies pick up, he said.

The school district is in the midst of heated negotiations with the teachers union.

The other new tax is $45 million for capital projects. In addition, the district is collecting the most it can in taxes for its operating budget.

The budget is expected to be voted on Wednesday, at the regular Board of Education meeting.

Sarah Karp is a WBEZ Education reporter. Follow her at @WBEZeducation.