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Chicago Budget Proposal Includes Property Tax Hike

by Phil Utterback, Chicago, November 2020

 

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2021 budget proposal calls for a $94 million property tax increase. The tax hike is just one piece of the puzzle to address the city’s $1.2 billion shortfall. The budget gap is largely due to the corona virus pandemic that has caused widespread economic problems.

 

“Chicago’s 2021 Budget represents our city’s roadmap toward an inclusive and fiscally responsible recovery from the extensive challenges of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

 

Increased Revenues

 

Higher property taxes, an increase in the city’s gas tax by $0.03 per gallon, and an increase to the personal property lease tax applied to computer leases of cloud software and infrastructure would generate $185 million in increased revenues, under Lightfoot’s plan.

 

Her proposal also includes $76 million in TIF surplus funding and taking $30 million from the city’s Rainy-Day Fund.

 

“To be clear folks, we are not experiencing just a rainy day. It’s a rainy season,” Lightfoot said.

 

Savings and Efficiencies

 

The mayor’s budget relies on more than $537 million in “savings and efficiencies.” That includes $106 million in vacancy eliminations, layoffs, and furloughs, as well as $114 million in non-personnel savings.

 

The personnel changes include eliminating 1,800 vacant positions from all city departments. The city would also see layoffs in roughly 350 positions March 1. The delay would allow for time to “see if there will be any new federal assistance on the horizon,” Lightfoot explained.

 

The City Council will hold a series of hearings on the proposed budget. The deadline to approve a balanced budget is December 31.