- Chicago has a $27 billion underfunded pension (remember Illinois has an even larger one) Chicago’s underfunded pension works out to $100,000 per citizen (population 2.7 million)
- Rahm has proposed the largest tax increase in Chicago history, a $588 million dollar increase is real estate taxes.
- Rahm has proposed a complicated scheme of special tax breaks (homeowner exemptions) so over half the city will not have a tax increase. This has been dubbed “the bungalow exemption” for all homes valued at less than $250,000
- All taxes are collected and administered by Cook County.
- Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said they don’t have robust enough computer systems to implement this proposal.
Chicago, the city that works!
Emanuel tax plan won’t work, Preckwinkle says—and here’s why
Greg Hinz on Politics
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle dropped a political bomb on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed 2016 city budget today, saying it’s technically impossible to implement a special break Emanuel wants in order to largely shelter city homeowners from the $588 million property tax hike he plans.
“We can’t do it,” said Preckwinkle, referring to an expanded homestead exemption Emanuel wants, a measure that would have to be administered by the county’s property-taxing system. “There’s no way we can get our computer software to do it.”
Preckwinkle’s comments, which came during a meeting with Crain’s editorial board on her own proposed 2016 budget, followed a meeting this morning between her and other county officials, notably including County Treasurer Maria Pappas, whose office actually sends out the property tax bills. Preckwinkle said her understanding of what is and is not technically possible came largely from Pappas.
Pappas, in a phone call, complained that Preckwinkle is “using” her as part of a political feud with the mayor, but she did confirm that, indeed, the county’s current, antiquated computer system cannot neatly divide properties and their tax rates between those located in and out of the city.
“They can’t do it. I’m 95 percent sure they can’t do it,” said Pappas, noting that the county only recently began to move to replace its quarter-century-old mainframe computer.
Perhaps an outside technical consultant might find a way to crunch the numbers, Pappas said. But such a person hasn’t even been hired, she added.
Emanuel offered the homestead exemption as a bit of political cover, enabling aldermen to tell constituents that anyone with a home worth less than $250,000 would pay none of the $588 million hike, and those with more valuable property that they would get a partial break.
The plan was already in trouble with Gov. Bruce Rauner, perhaps under pressure from owners of business property, strongly suggesting he opposes legislation needed to implement the proposal.
Democratic legislative leaders nonetheless have promised to push the legislation, but if Preckwinkle and Pappas are right, some lawmakers might conclude they have no reason to make a tough vote.
Emanuel’s office had no immediate response to Preckwinkle’s statement. He and Preckwinkle have had a frosty relationship, with the county board president nearly running against Emanuel’s re-election bid last winter.
Asked if she has any substantive thoughts on the mayor’s proposed tax break, which some say will raise rents on minority apartment dwellers, Preckwinkle replied: “I think I’ll stick with what the treasurer told me. There’s no way we can do it.”