Emanuel to propose $588M property tax hike, phased in over 4 years

By Fran Spielman – Chicago Sun-Times

To eliminate the city’s structural deficit and confront a $30 billion pension crisis that has saddled Chicago with a junk bond rating, Emanuel will ask the City Council to raise property taxes by $588 million by 2018 for police and fire pensions and school construction and impose a first-ever monthly garbage collection fee of $9.50 per household.

The $588 million increase will cost the owner of a $250,000 home roughly $588 more a year. It will be phased in over a four-year period, under the 2016 budget that Emanuel will unveil to the City Council on Tuesday.

A $318 million increase for police and fire pensions would apply to the 2015 property tax levy payable in 2016, coupled with a $45 million increase for school construction, for a total increase of $363 million.

That will be followed by a $109 million property tax increase for police and fire pensions in the 2016 levy, a $53 million increase in 2017 and $63 million in 2018.

The $9.50-a-month garbage collection fee amounts to a back-door property tax increase that would add $114 to the costs heaped on 613,000 Chicago owners of single-family homes, two-, three- and four-flats that still get city pick-ups.

Senior citizens would pay half that amount, just as they do now on city stickers, in a break demanded by the City Council’s Black Caucus. The city is assuming that 40,000 seniors will get the garbage discount.

As expected, the new fee would be tacked on to water bills that arrive in mailboxes every other month. If homeowners refuse to pay the garbage fee, city crews would still pick up the trash to avoid exacerbating Chicago’s already serious rodent problem.  read more…..