The City Should Give Renters Property Tax Relief, Alderman Says

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 18, 2016 7:15PM

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Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa at podium / Facebook / Logan Square Neighborhood Association

Property taxes has long been a thorny source of debate in local politics—and it only got pricklier when the City of Chicago passed a massive $588 million increase last year. Unsurprisingly, the rebates that Rahm Emanuel promised homeowners who face steep increases this year are far less than once promised. But they’re definitely better than what renters have been offered as they see their rents go up—which is zero. A group of aldermen and activists joined together on Monday at City Hall to push back against that lack of relief for renters.

Renters were excluded from the program because a “rental rebate will be difficult and costly to administer and enforce,” according to an administration memo. But Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) believes a plan that would offer rebates to landlords who promise not to raise rents would work.

"It can be a cost the city is ready to pay," he said, according to the Tribune. "That's why it's so important that we continue to have conversations about property tax relief for renters, because we also want to ensure that as we work toward the 2017 budget, we're finding dedicated sources of funding for a program that would provide relief for renters as well."

The plan is still in the early stages and light on details, but Ramirez-Rosa estimates that a plan that included rental rebates could cost around $35 million, a jump from the $21 million price tag quoted by the Emanuel administration for the program as it stands now. Spokeswoman Molly Poppe said on Monday that the administration would "work with aldermen to address these concerns and discuss a possible structure.”

Under the mayor’s arrangement, homeowners are eligible for a $200 maximum rebate, depending on household income and the size of their tax increase.

Ramirez-Rosa was joined in the call on Monday by Proco "Joe" Moreno (1st Ward) and Deborah Mell (33rd Ward). Each of the three council members represent Northwest Side wards that include large rental shares. Representatives from Communities United, Pilsen Alliance and the Logan Square Neighborhood Association also gathered to show support.

Chicagoist looked at the effects Emanuel’s property-tax increase might have in terms of rental rates, and experts told us that an increase was almost certain.