Isn't this the same Mayor a couple of days ago worried about all the foreclosures and wants to do something about it
Daley inching toward property tax hike
August 21, 2007
By Fran Spielman Special to the Daily Southtown
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley hates raising the city property tax about as much as Chicago homeowners despise paying it.
Part of Daley's concern is political backlash. The other is a pragmatic desire to leave the door open for the Chicago Public Schools to tax to the max, as the school system has done in 10 of the 13 years since Daley took over the city schools.
But with a $217 million budget shortage and the next election nearly four years away, it looks like Daley may have no choice but to bite the bullet this time. That's even after crusading for property tax relief to soften the blow of reassessment increases.
He can either raise the property tax by the $30 million maximum allowed by the city's self-imposed cap or lift that ceiling.
Chicago property owners also face higher water and sewer rates to finance the costly switch to automatic meter readers. An array of other tax and fee increases are in the cards as well.
"I think he'll go to the cap. It'd be foolish not to," said a city hall source, who asked to remain anonymous. "They need every nickel they can find. He should have done it a long time ago. The more you wait, the worse it gets."
Another source argued Daley would have been far better off raising the property tax by $10 million or $15 million a year all along to keep pace with rising personnel costs.
Instead, he has cut property taxes twice -- in 1990 and 1999 -- and raised the city's overall levy by just $92.7 million in 18 years. That's less than 1 percent a year.
None of the city's $713.4 million annual levy (the total amount raised via the property tax) is available for day-to-day operations. It's largely eaten up by pension obligations.
"How do you go on like that while giving police and fire pay raises every year and with pensions and health care going off the charts? They're all afraid of the headlines. But take the polls and stuff 'em. You need to govern," the source said.
In a recent interview, Daley repeated his mantra that raising the property tax is a "last resort." But he also said, "You can't rule anything in or out. If you do, then basically you're kidding yourself. You leave all options open."
Last month, Daley followed two rounds of mid-year budget cuts with an alarming announcement: Chicago's $5.6 billion preliminary 2008 budget has a $217.7 million hole, the second-largest in a decade.
Some aldermen reacted with a promise to steer clear of the dreaded property tax. Sources said that aldermanic door-slamming angered Daley, prompting some to conclude that the mayor intends to raise the tax that everyone loves to hate.
"Does that mean everybody (on the city council) will go for it? No way. The Tom Allens, Brian Dohertys and the rest of the Northwest Side (bloc) won't go for it. But (Daley will) have (the needed) 26 votes," a city hall source said.