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City Looking At Raising Utility Tax To Pay For Worker Pensions

CHICAGO (CBS) -- On the heels of a record property tax hike, Mayor Emanuel is now considering a tax increase on utilities to shore up the city's pension funds.

The $543 million property tax increase was to make sure cops and firefighters receive their pensions.

The utility tax hike would pay pensions for municipal workers.

For Mayor Emanuel, it's a game of pick your poison.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle already raised sales taxes by a penny on the dollar--in a city that pays the highest sales tax in the nation.

Any further hike in property taxes would make homeowners howl.

"We're left with the least harmful of the poisons, and that's the utility tax," said 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore.

"At the end of the day, you're paying more in taxes overall, whether it's the property tax or the utilities tax," said Amanda Kass of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

It is the cost of Mayor Daley's unrealistic obsession with keeping property taxes low.

"For years and years and years, pension funds have been underfunded," Kass said. "By underfunding pension funds, you could keep property taxes artificially low."

The utility tax increase could bring in $300 million a year, although the amount can vary depending on weather-related usage by customers.

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