West Siders feel impact of property tax hike, but not equally

According to a July 31 Chicago Sun-Times investigative report, three out of every four Chicago property owners are paying higher property taxes than they paid last year in the wake of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $318 million tax increase.

The mayor got the City Council and the Chicago Board of Education to agree to the increase so that more money could be raised to pay police and firefighter pensions. A portion of the money would also go to the struggling Chicago Public Schools.

West Side aldermen Jason Ervin (28th) and Chris Taliaferro (29th) voted against the tax increase while aldermen Michael Scott, Jr. and Emma Mitts both voted for the proposal. According to the Sun-Times report, taxes for all but one of the aldermen increased this year.

Scott’s property tax bill went up by 2 percent — from $2,708.97 to $2,757.58 — or roughly $50. Taliaferro’s bill went up by 13 percent — from $2,782.63 to $3,136.20 — or around $354. Mitts’s bill increased by 23 percent — from $2,726.74 to $3,354.25 — or around $628.

Ervin’s bill, however, decreased by 31 percent — from $4,209.79 to $2,909.34 — or around $1,300, which is the largest tax decrease experienced by any aldermen. Ervin noted that his East Garfield Park townhouse, which he shares with his wife Melissa Conyears, was estimated two years ago by Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios’s office at a value much more than its worth.

Last year, Ervin told the Sun-Times, he appealed and got the assessor’s valuation lowered from $420,000 to $240,870, adding that the “home’s purchase price three years ago was $185,000,” the Sun-Times noted.

“That was just wrong,” Ervin said.

According to the Sun-Times report, the number of property tax bills that increased in the 24th, 28th, 29th and 37th Wards range between 69 percent in the 24th and 75 percent in the 28th. The average tax bill in those wards ranges from a low of $2,366 in the 24th to $4,212 in the 29th.

Property owners in the 28th Ward experienced the largest increase in property tax collections since last year, earning a boost of at least 19.4 percent, the Sun-Times notes. The 37th Ward experienced the smallest increase in tax collections, with less than 10 percent more tax revenue coming from property owners since last year.

But as the Chicago Tribune reported recently, not only have property taxes increased, but so have the estimated value of properties made by county assessor for tax purposes, which is determined every three years.

Property values in trendier, wealthier areas of the city, such as the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park, experienced a greater increase in taxable valuation than those on the West and South Sides, the Tribune reports.

In Austin, the 2015 median single-home value was $164,500, a nearly 8 percent increase, or a roughly $1,000 jump, from 2014. To see more changes in median single-home values on the West Side, visit: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-chicago-property-tax-double-whammy-met-20160731-story.html.

Murder-suicide takes place outside Austin church on Sunday

Police suspect that a 38-year-old suburban man fatally shot a woman before shooting himself in an apparent murder-suicide outside of the Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, 5729 W. Chicago, after a July 31 afternoon church service.

The shooting happened at around 2:05 p.m., according to the Chicago Tribune. The man, Roshaun D. Wilson, and the woman, Trinyce L. Sanders-Wilson, 36, both of west suburban Broadview, were pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting.

According to the church’s pastor, Rev. Kenneth Giles, the shooting happened not long after the service ended at 1:30 p.m. He added that the couple may have been estranged and that “there was probably some things going on between the two of them.”

Giles said both families of the married couple were longtime members of his church. The victim, he said, sang in the young adult choir and often served food at the church.

To read more of the Tribune report, visit: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-shootings-violence-20160731-story.html.

State senator gives away hundreds of free school supplies

Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th) hosted her 7th Annual Uplift Our Future Back-to-School event at west suburban Brookfield Zoo on July 31. The state senator, whose district includes large parts of the West Side, including Austin, gave away roughly 800 book bags packed with school supplies. Attendees were also treated to free food and a free visit to the zoo.

“God wants me to make sure every single child deserves a quality school, a good teacher and a good education,” Lightford said.