City Council approves controversial Emanuel budget

West Side Aldermen Taliaferro and Ervin vote against it, while Mitts and Scott vote in favor

Opinion

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By Michael Romain

Editor

The Chicago City Council today voted 36 to 14 to approve Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2016 budget, which includes a nearly $600 million property tax increase — the highest in the city's history. The tax hikes are part of a comprehensive plan by the mayor to raise revenue, largely by raising taxes and fees on everything from garbage hauling to taxi fares to Netflix service.

West Side Aldermen Jason Ervin (28th) and Chris Taliaferro (29th) voted against the mayor's budget, while Aldermen Michael Scott, Jr. (24th) and Emma Mitts (37th) voted for its passage.

Ervin, who has been vocally against a proposed $9.50 per month garbage fee, was visibly outraged during council debate, pounding his desk and doubling down on his argument, which he expressed before today's vote, that the fee is regressive and would disproportionately burden minority homeowners. At a community meeting in West Garfield Park earlier this month, the alderman called the fee a "black tax."

"I want better," Ervin said during today's council debate, according to a report by DNAinfo.

"The nearly $600 million property tax increase will have a disproportionate impact on low-income homeowners and seniors," according to a statement released before today's vote by the city's Progressive Reform Caucus, of which Taliaferro is a member.

The caucus noted that it supports the mayor's effort to lobby Springfield to expand the homestead exemption, but conceded that, considering the gridlock in the state's capitol, such expansion "is not assured."

The caucus also criticized the fact that the mayor didn't include a plant to implement an alternative minimum property tax on the city's Central Business District.

"Until the building owners in the Central Business District are stopped from gaming the system and are required to pay their fair share, those costs will continue to be passed on to homeowners in the neighborhoods," the caucus noted.

The increase in revenue from the mayor's property tax hike will go to payments into the city's seriously underfunded police and fire pension funds.

According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, the more than $60 million that the city anticipates will come from the garbage-hauling fees will help fund daily operations "start weaning the city away from risky and costly borrowing practices much criticized by the Wall Street rating agencies that have lowered the city's creditworthiness to junk status." 

Contact:
Email: michael@austinweeklynews.com Twitter: AustinWeeklyChi

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