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Emanuel: Property Tax Hikes To Close CPS Budget Deficit May Be Necessary

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 12, 2013 5:40PM

Photo credit: Patrick Pyszka/City of Chicago

We aren’t surprised to find that, even with the closings of 50 schools on the horizon, Chicago Public Schools is still facing a budget deficit expected to be around $1 billion. On Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused to rule out the possibility of an increase in the district’s property tax levy to help fill that shortfall.

According to the Sun-Times, Emanuel hopes the possibility of hiking CPS’ property tax levy is a last resort but, knowing administrators’ grasp of math at the Central Office is even fuzzier than the students in the system, you may want to start steeling yourself for it now.

“We’re gonna have to continue to make tough choices. We’ve done about $650 million to $750 million worth of savings in administrative areas, and we’re gonna continue to do that to protect the investments we’re making in the classroom.”

Emanuel said there’s a possibility for more administrative cuts—the Chicago Teachers Union fears they’ll bear the brunt of any possible layoffs—and has instructed his hand-picked school board to lobby lawmakers in the Illinois Legislature to remove the cap that limits the amount CPS can increase its tax levy.

The school district has used its maximum levy the past two years to help bridge the budget gap. That's averaged out to $28 more per homeowner. In this age of reacting to the words "tax hike" with "Fuck that," however, the possibility of seeing even higher levies on property tax bills may be able to unite supporters of and opponents to the school closings.

School Board President Davit Vitale would only tell the Sun-Times “it’s our responsibility to ask” Springfield to lift the cap.