Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th) said during a Nov. 17 town hall that he would support a proposed ordinance that would require any tax increase to have been approved by two-thirds of the City Council.
The measure was introduced by Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36th), who joined Taliaferro and two other alderman during the event, held at the Northwest Community Church on the northwest side, to discuss with city residents the 2015 property tax increase, among other government issues.
The majority of residents who spoke during the town hall, which was hosted by the Belmont-Cragin-based nonprofit Northwest Side Housing Center, expressed their dissatisfaction with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal, made last year, to increase property taxes by more than $750 million in order to fund the pensions of city workers.
Carlos Olivero, the chair of the NSHC’s housing committee, told the aldermen that various taxes and fees paid by residents amount to an unsustainable burden, before asking whether or not the aldermen will support Villegas’s proposed ordinance.
“I urge you to look into your moral heart and see where families are being [hurt], little by little,” he said. “I want you to recognize that you are elected officials and you’re elected by the people.”
Reboyras said that, while he may be open to requiring a supermajority, he didn’t support stopping tax increases altogether. Sometimes, he said, tax increases may be necessary.
“Would I vote to halt all tax hikes? Absolutely not, that’s insane,” he said. “When is the last time you saw a budget in Illinois?”
Villegas said that he proposed the ordinance because he believed aldermen take tax and fee increases too lightly. Raising the threshold would require the city to work harder to justify future tax increase and put some effort into justifying them to taxpayers.
“I feel that if this is such a big issue related to finances, two-thirds of the body has to make the decision,” he said. “So when the vote is taken, it reflects the majority of Chicago.”
Taliaferro said he would support the measure, but added that he isn’t optimistic about its chances of passing given how many ordinances were introduced. Right now, the proposal is stuck in committee.
“I think it’s a great proposal, but I’m afraid it won’t see the light of day,” he said. “It’s important that you, as our constituents, not only put pressure on aldermen, but also put [pressure] on the committee chair for it to be heard.”
Taliaferro also explained why he voted against last year’s budget, which included the massive property tax increase. The West Side alderman said that, as a former police officer who is eligible for a pension, he had a stake in having the 2015 property tax increase passed; however, he voted against the hike because he wanted to follow his constituents’ wishes.
“Even in communities [in the 29th ward] that aren’t doing so bad, like Galewood and Montclare, I didn’t receive one voter asking me to support the 2015 budget,” he said. “It was a difficult vote, because we need to shore up pensions for people who worked [for the city] for many years. But I didn’t think he city looked at every opportunity [to raise] money.”