There is a growing consensus among aldermen that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will propose a property tax increase next Tuesday. But despite previous press reports, it is unclear how big of an increase and whether or not this will be the only tax increase–another tax hike might be necessary next year, too. Conversations with aldermen, state legislators, staff and leading City Hall lobbyists conducted by Aldertrack in recent days have revealed the following:

  • The much discussed $500 million property tax hike, on top of other potential fees and new revenue sources, would likely only get the city to a “minimum credit card payment” to cover FY2016 needs, and not nearly enough to begin paying down the city’s $42.9 billion of debt and pension obligations in a significant way.

  • Privately, the Mayor’s team has disavowed the $500 million number leaked to the press the Wednesday before Labor Day, sowing confusion among aldermen regarding the Mayor’s plans. Almost no budget details have been shared with aldermen so far, although the mayor has solicited everyone for their best ideas.

  • Many aldermen believe they can politically weather voting for one property tax increase, but two property tax increases would be political suicide. As a result, many on the City Council would prefer to see a monster increase this year, giving them three years to make up with voters before the 2019 elections.

  • Gov. Bruce Rauner made it clear earlier this week he will not approve any tax increase without changes to collective bargaining rules for government unions, so the city will need to find tax increases and revenue sources that do not require state approval, like a property tax increase.

  • Even without Rauner’s opposition, there is little appetite to do anything to help Mayor Emanuel’s political prospects among Springfield Democrats. The fact that many of the pro-Rauner Illinois GO political action committee’s donors are the same leading donors to Emanuel has not been lost on legislators, leading many to believe that Emanuel is complicit with Illinois GO, or at least not making an effort to put a brick on the organization

  • The thirteen freshmen aldermen are very politically exposed, regardless of whatever property tax plan is brought forward. They are the ones that have the most to lose by voting for property tax increase.

  • Municipal employee unions are generally in favor of the property tax increase, giving aldermen some political cover.

  • The almost total failure of Emanuel’s Chicago Forward PAC to affect the last election cycle has proven to many aldermen that there’s little he can do to help them at the ballot box.

  • The mayor only needs 25 votes (he is the tie-breaker) to pass a budget. Because so many aldermen could be politically exposed, we may see a scenario where a large number vote “no” on a property tax increase and it squeaks through.

  • Aldermen must be in office for 28 months before a mayoral appointment can be made for a replacement instead of a special election. Already a number of aldermen are rumored to be making plans for finding work after September 7, 2017, the 28-month mark.