Chicago Passes City Budget With $588 Million Property Tax

By aaroncynic in News on Oct 28, 2015 5:55PM

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Photo by Brooke Collins/City of Chicago

The Chicago City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emauel’s budget Wednesday, which includes a massive $588 million property tax hike. The measure sailed through City Council relatively easily, with 36 Aldermen voting in favor and 14 in opposition.

"I think when it comes to Chicago's future this budget lays the foundation for a more secure, more stable & a stronger city,” said Emanuel.

In addition to the $588 million property tax increase, the bulk of which will go to pay police and fire pensions, with $45 million going to schools, the FY2016 budget includes a $9.50 a month garbage collection fee, taxes and fare hikes on ride-sharing services and taxis, and a tax on streaming media services like Netflix.

Some of the ‘yes’ votes on the budget came with some slight complaints from aldermen, who were at least trying to make it look like they could’ve voted against Emanuel.

“It is a bitter medicine we have to take, but it is the only realistic way to regain our fiscal health," said Ald. Marty Quinn, according to the Tribune. The grand total in new taxes—$755 million.

"Today, the members of the body have a choice,” said Ald. Ed Burke, chairman of the Finance Committee. “They can look to the next generation, or they can look to the next election.”

Despite a solid majority vote in favor, more aldermen than usual voted against the budget, as last year only four stood in opposition.

"I think we need to do more to constrain and minimize the effect on homeowners before we ask them to pay more,” said Ald. Harry Osterman, who voted no. Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, who also introduced a measure to cut salaries for both aldermen and city executives, said that he couldn’t “in good conscience” vote for the budget while other efficiencies and reforms were available. He also took a shot on Twitter at Emanuel’s idea of transparency:

Community groups that also oppose the budget say that even though Rahm and the majority of aldermen said there was no way out of passing a budget that includes the largest property tax hike in history, there were alternatives.

“Rahm Emanuel chose to push a massive property tax increase onto Chicago working families instead of pursuing a myriad of solutions that would have shifted the greatest burden to those most able to pay,” said Amisha Patel, Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative, in a press release. “Chicago should recover hundreds of millions of dollars that we have handed over to Wall Street banks as cities like Houston have done. The City could have insourced pension fund management and other financial services instead of privatizing more clinics in Black and Brown neighborhoods.”