Following inaction in Springfield on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s property tax relief plan and a looming April 30th deadline to consider a city-run program, Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1) and co-sponsors will hold a press conference at 10:00 a.m. today to call on the Finance Committee to hold a hearing on a Property Tax Relief Program he introduced in September. The Finance Committee meets this Friday at 10:00 a.m.
“We can not wait for Springfield to act on this important issue–our city must take action now and pass this important rebate program!” Moreno wrote in a recent Facebook post. Ald. Pat Dowell (3), Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6), Ald. Michael Scott Jr. (24), Ald. Danny Solis (25), Ald. Milly Santiago (31), Ald. James Cappleman (46), Ald. Ameya Pawar(47), and Ald. Joe Moore (49) are co-sponsors and have been invited to attend the press conference. “Families impacted by the property tax increase” will also be in attendance, according to a Moreno staffer.
Since Mayor Emanuel announced a historic property tax hike last fall to shore up funds for the city’s Police and Fire pensions, aldermen have proposed three different relief plans to mitigate the stress on homeowners.
Expressing worry that Springfield wouldn’t get their act together in time to approve Mayor Emanuel’s plan to double the Homestead exemption from $7,000 to $14,000 by this spring, the City Council adopted a resolution that set an April 30th deadline for the City to adopt a property tax relief plan of its own.
Officials with the City’s Budget Office, who spoke on background, told Aldertrack they’re looking at the various proposals and will meet with aldermen over the next few weeks to come up with an official city-run plan. It’s likely that plan won’t base rebates on home value, which they called “regressive.” The city is more interested in a “progressive” and simple plan focused on low income residents, they told Aldertrack.
The various plans on the table:
Homestead exemption from Mayor Emanuel: A doubling of the homestead exemption from $7,000 to $14,000 in Springfield was painted as a home run by the Emanuel administration, since it didn’t cost the state anything and would give homeowners across the board some property tax relief. In a statement in October, the Mayor’s office said “any resident whose home is valued at $250,000 or less will be held nearly harmless over the four year phase in of the property tax increase, with many seeing a decrease in their bill.” But like most things in Springfield lately, the amendment hasn’t moved in months.
Ald. Moreno’s Plan: Moreno’s ordinance is intended for homeowners with income under $100,000, with a higher rebate rate for those earning less. The rebate rate is multiplied by the difference in the City’s real estate tax assessment rate from last year to this year, then multiplied by the assessed value of the house. Moreno’s office said 57% of the occupied household population in Chicago would potentially be eligible to apply for relief under his ordinance.
Ald. Smith’s Plan: It was included in the same resolution that set the April 30th deadline, which passed as part of the consent calendar on the day of the budget vote. Ald. Michele Smith (43) and Ald. John Arena’s (45) resolution urges Springfield to pass the Mayor’s Homestead Exemption in Springfield, but if the exemption isn’t passed into law by April 30, 2016, the City Council would “consider an ordinance creating a City-administered Property Tax Rebate Program…” by June 1 “taking into account the numbers of years that such homeowners have resided in their homes, their age, their income, and the disproportionate impact upon them of the increased property tax levies and the 2016 reassessment of property values in Cook County.”
The text of the resolution draws from Ald. Smith’s ordinance. Ald. Arena told Aldertrack at the time the rebate deal is why none of the Progressive Caucus’ revenue amendments introduced the week before the budget succeeded. Since a rebate plan is estimated to cost between $20 and $40 million dollars, depending on how many people apply, and since the city doesn’t currently have a dedicated revenue source to pay for it, some of the Progressive Caucus ordinances, like closing amusement tax loopholes, are being held back as potential ways to pay for the rebate, Arena said.
Ald. Rosa’s Plan: Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), partnering with other Progressive Caucus members, introduced an ordinance that “makes use of fund set aside from the City’s underutilized 2010 Property Tax Rebate program. In 2010 the City allocated $35,000,000 for a rebate, of which only $2.1 million was distributed,” according to a release from Rosa’s office. Rather than calculate a rebate based on the value of a home, the rebate would target income within 400% of the federal poverty level. “This would include single homeowners earning $47,080 (roughly the median income of the City of Chicago), and couples earning a combined income of $63,720,” the release says.