Chicagoans face hefty property tax boost to help pay for pensions
Chicago residents face an average 10 percent property tax increase this year as city officials grapple with finding ways to pay the pension plans of teachers, police officers and firefighters, according to the Cook County clerk.
Suburban Cook County homeowners will fare slightly better, with upticks in property taxes topping out at 6.5 percent. Commercial property in Chicago will see an increase of approximately 9.3 percent, the clerk's office reported.
“The money is needed to pay for operations and pensions for employees,” Dan Patlak, a Cook County Board of (tax) Review commissioner, told the North Cook News. “The increase will continue for the next three to four years."
Patlak blamed a long history of government mismanagement for the need for higher taxes.
“The pension plans are too generous and for too long have been underfunded,” he said.
Property tax bills are slated to be mailed out at the end of June, with a due date of Aug. 1.
The Chicago Tribune reported that approximately 60 percent of the property tax increase is the result of a $272 effort to help the long-troubled Chicago Public School system and its teachers’ pension fund. The system has routinely experienced skipped or reduced contributions that have left it in financial ruins. The Tribune said CPS also pocketed at least $45 million in additional property tax funds last year after city lawmakers approved another sizable boost for school construction projects.
Patlak cautioned that residents planning to appeal their bills need to think ahead.
“For bills coming this July, it’s too late,” he said. “You have to appeal six weeks to two months before, and there is a process you have to follow.”