Property owners, wrap your heads around the fact that property taxes will rise significantly in 2015 — and it’s your fault.
For those of you who have not reviewed the approved city of Chicago 2015 budget (and this particularly includes some candidates running for alderman), please note the following:
A) There is an unpaid $557 million pension payment due this year because of increased debt;
B) City debt has increased 31 percent since 2012 from $632.6 to $826.4 million dollars and comprises 45 percent of the property tax levy.
C) The city of Chicago annually loses $75 million dollars to Tax Increment Financing (TIF).
Pension and debt are primarily funded by property taxes. The Mayor and some media paint the impression that an underfunded pension system is the only crisis concerning the city’s budget, while the city’s debt is marginalized.
The former Mayor Daley (and the City Council during his tenure) repeatedly skipped making required pension payments, while city employees made their contributions.
The pension reform touted by the Mayor and the corporate community is essentially city employees receiving less benefits and paying higher contributions while ignoring the fact that the Mayor and the Chicago City Council have repeatedly refinanced city debt to the point where taxpayers are annually paying interest on interest, in addition to principal.
The Policemen and Firemen Annuity and Benefit Funds comprise 63 percent of the taxpayer dollars delegated to pensions. Considering the 2014 police overtime budget of $100 million was exhausted by August, it’s difficult to fathom that police officers (who make up the largest segment of city employees) will agree to less benefits.
City employees should not agree to take reduced benefits while the city is obligated to pay off the high debt it has incurred.
Our elected officials knew that increasing debt is unsustainable, yet the City Council voted in February 2014 to increase the mayor’s borrowing authority up to $900 million.
Since we do not hold our elected officials accountable for failing to be prudent stewards of our tax dollars, we are equally responsible for the major property tax increase that is about to happen.
Maybe the shock of a property tax increase will make us pay attention rather than just complain.
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