"On Wednesday, October 28, 2015, I voted YES on Mayor Emanuel's 2016 budget. The budget includes a $544 million dollar property tax increase to pay statutorily required pension contributions. Voting YES was a difficult decision, and one I made with the City's long-term survival in mind. I want to thank all of you who gave your feedback throughout the budget process. My rationale for the YES vote is below.
My budget vote brings me back to GROWCommunity. Building a neighborhood K-12 system in our community has been my top priority since taking office in 2011. Since then, we've directed millions of TIF funds, hundreds of thousands of dollars in aldermanic menu funds, and over $500k in private funds to our neighborhood schools and high schools. I knew in 2011 that a property tax increase was inevitable. I just didn't know when the politics would catch up with our fiscal reality. And so I talked about this tax increase during budget town halls in 2012, 2013, and 2014; during community meetings, and during my reelection campaign. In addition to talking about the inevitable, I began to work to guard against the increase by focusing efforts on our neighborhood high schools.
Most families move to our community for the K-8 schools. And a large percentage of the families that move to our community, move to the suburbs for high schools. This is reflected in our neighborhood school populations. For example, today at Coonley, there are five kindergarten classes and only one 7th and 8th grade class. This is true at most of our neighborhood schools. Our neighborhood schools are bursting with students in the lower grades with the student population thinning out as students near the eighth grade. Why?
The selective enrollment process and stress drives many families out of the city. This is reflected in what it takes to actually gain admission to a selective enrollment high school. In most cases, children have to earn straight As and test above the 95th percentile to even have a chance at admission to one of the selective high schools. For most families, the pressure is too much. So they flee for the suburbs and pay significantly more in taxes to obtain stability for their children. This stability is what #GROWCommunity is seeking to provide all families in our community.
[...] Below, you will find a summary of the most frequently asked questions I have received throughout this process.
- Why raise taxes now?
- Why property taxes?
- How much more will I pay as a result of this increase?
- Have any other kinds of taxes or sources of revenue been considered?
- Financial Transaction Tax
- Corporate Income Tax
- Graduated (Progressive) Income Tax for the State of Illinois
- Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
- Why not find efficiency, waste, or cut programs/jobs to raise the money?
- Why is there a new fee to pick up garbage?
- What about other independent analyses on the Mayor's proposal?"