Despite Budget Issues, Chicago Homeowners Won’t See Property-Tax Increase

May 25, 2010

Mayor Richard M. Daley has made a promise that he will not increase property taxes on residential Chicago real estate next year.

Daley made a speech to the City Club of Chicago on Tuesday and said he didn’t want to further strain already struggling homeowners because of the city’s tight budget.

Mayor Daley

“Day by day, we have an obligation to our taxpayers to make government more efficient and to do more with less,” Daley said. “I will not propose an increase in property taxes in next year’s budget. I believe people are hurting. I don’t want to add to their burden.”

There will be sacrifices, however, including employee furlough days (Daley is taking some too!), a possible increase in unspecified fees, and some services could be cut.

Daley said he will regretfully put on hold some of the city’s beautification efforts and will maintain current trees and planters but will not add more. The one-year moratorium could save Chicago about $4 million.

“That’s tough for me,” he said. “Keeping Chicago looking good is important to many people and it improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods. But, we’re facing a tight budget, and we must set our priorities.”

Other money-saving plans: A new prescription drug program for city workers will save Chicago $12 million; a recent audit of health care charges resulted in a savings of $9 million in health care costs; and a consolidation of leased city spaces has already saved close to $5 million.

Chicago homeowners recently saved the city a lot of money: Thousands of residents that could have applied for Daley’s property-tax relief program failed to do so.

Approximately 200,000 Chicago homeowners could have received a property-tax credit of anywhere from $25 to $200, but less than 37,000 applications were filed by the March 31 deadline. There was $35 million set aside in this year’s budget for the program; the city will end up paying out less than $4.5 million.

The last time property taxes in Chicago saw an increase was after Daley’s 2007 re-election, when he implemented the largest property tax increase in Chicago history. In December, Daley will surpass his father as Chicago’s longest-serving mayor. He hasn’t said whether or not he will run for re-election in 2011.

Check out Daley’s speech here.

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