Austin resident warns West Siders property taxes are about to skyrocket

February 10, 2015
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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 (especially some candidates running for alderman) who have not reviewed the approved city of Chicago 2015 budget, please note the following:

  • There is an unpaid 2015 $557 million pension payment due because of increased debt;
  • City debt has increased 31 percent since 2012 from $632.6 to $826.4 million, and comprises 45 percent of the property tax levy; and
  • 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 under-funded pensions is the only crises concerning the city’s budget while the city’s debt is marginalized.

Former Mayor Daley and the Chicago 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 city employees receiving less benefits and paying higher contributions while ignoring the fact that the mayor and aldermen 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 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 comprise the largest segment of city employees) will agree to lesser 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.

Because we do not hold our elected officials accountable and they’ve failed 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 complain.

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