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Alderman, Activists: Property Tax Hike Will Hurt Chicago Renters

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A freshman alderman has joined community groups in predicting Mayor Rahm Emanuel's proposed property tax increase would create a crisis in affordable rental housing.

A report from the group Communities United said the mayor's $588 million property tax hike would threaten the affordability of the city's two-flat and four-unit apartment buildings.

Albany Park landlord Helen Slade said that's bad news for some of her tenants.

"We can pass on this new property tax increase to our tenants, because we're below market, but it's going to impact the tenants who can't afford that, and we'll end up losing the working families, and having them be replaced," she said.

Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) said there's a better way to balance the budget.

"There's ideas on the table – whether it's a TIF surplus, whether it's the revenue ordinances the Progressive Caucus brought forth that are now being held in the Finance Committee – there's more that we could do to mitigate this property tax increase before October 28th. Unfortunately, I don't think that we have a partner in the mayor's office that's willing to do that," he said.


Earlier this year, the City Council's Progressive Caucus offered a bevy of revenue ideas in an effort to minimize a property tax increase in Chicago. Among their proposals was a luxury tax on items such as fur coats, high end jewelry, and yachts; a tax on services like real estate agents and dentists; an added water tax on big box retailers; a financial transactions tax that would hit LaSalle Street bankers; an emissions tax on polluters; dynamic parking meter pricing, with higher rates during peak demand; and an "alternative minimum property tax" and increased real estate transfer tax for large building owners in the city's Central Business District.

The Progressive Caucus also proposed phasing out seven tax increment financing districts in the downtown area.

Aldermen were set to cast their final vote on the mayor's $7.8 billion budget plan on Wednesday; including $588 million in property tax increases over the next four years to shore up police and firefighter pension funds, and to fund new school construction.

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