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Commercial Business Group Sounds Off On Emanuel Property Tax Plan

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As members of an Illinois House committee prepared to hold a hearing on Mayor Rahm Emanuel's request to expand property tax exemptions to ease the burden of his proposed property tax hike, Chicago landlords were criticizing the mayor's plan.

The mayor has proposed a $588 million increase in property taxes in Chicago over the next four years as part of his $7.8 billion budget for 2016, and has asked lawmakers to double the homeowner's exemption to shield owners of homes worth $250,000 or less from bearing any of the burden. The Illinois House Revenue & Finance Committee was meeting Tuesday to discuss Emanuel's property tax relief plan.

If that plan wins approval in Springfield, it would mean shifting more of the burden to commercial property owners. Michael Cornicelli, executive vice president of the Building Owners and Managers Association, said landlords in turn would pass that burden on to tenants, and businesses would make cuts.

"They're going to cut hours, they're going to let people go, and they move off to places that are more friendly environments," he said.

BOMA said the mayor's plan would add roughly $24,000 in annual costs to the average small or mid-sized business downtown, because landlords would pass on the tax increase to their tenants.

"If we're concerned about maintaining a healthy job market in this town, I think we need to look at how those businesses are going to react," Cornicelli said.


He said BOMA objects not only to the size of the tax hike, but the way it was presented to the business community.

"Everything is just the sort of 'Shut up and do what I tell you to do' theory of city government here, and it's not working," he said.

Cornicelli said he's upset the mayor did not share details of his tax plan until the morning of his budget address last month.

"The fat lady has not sung on this. She hasn't even warmed up yet," he said.

Cornicelli suggested the city could make more cuts to spending, in areas like garbage collection, instead of relying on tax hikes that he claimed would force businesses to close.

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