Chicago Property Taxes Hiked As School Budget Passed

There are so many new and increased fees, fines, and taxes being proposed and implemented around the Chicagoland area these days, it’s hard to keep track of all of them. But here’s one Chicago tax hike that’s just been approved that’s making local headlines. Juan Perez, Jr., reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school board on Wednesday unanimously approved a budget that relies heavily on borrowed money and the hope of a nearly $500 million bailout from a stalemated Springfield, with the specter of disruptive cuts in January if that help fails to materialize.

The $5.7 billion spending plan contains another property tax hike — an estimated $19-a-year increase for the owner of a $250,000 home — as well as teacher and staff layoffs. The Chicago Board of Education also prepared to go to Wall Street to issue $1 billion in bonds and agreed to spend $475,000 so an accounting firm can monitor a cash flow problem so acute that Chicago Public Schools mulled skipping a massive teacher pension payment at the end of June…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

My old neighbors on the city’s Northwest Side, in their single family homes that are selling just south of the $350K-mark on average these days, probably aren’t too thrilled to hear about this latest tax hike.

Oh, but it gets “better.” Perez added:

To help patch over a budget gap the district said exceeds $1.1 billion, CPS raised its property taxes to the maximum amount allowed under state law. But CPS may not be done — [Chicago Public Schools chief Forrest] Claypool has floated the idea of restoring a property tax levy dedicated to teacher pensions that would generate an estimated $170 million

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Keep in mind this is just the school’s portion of the Chicago property owner’s tax bill we’re talking about here.

Once again, a couple of bucks here, a couple of bucks there, and all these new and increased fees, fines, and taxes from various levels of government will have Chicago taxpayers going bonkers soon enough.

And Illinois taxpayers- note that bit about:

The hope of a nearly $500 million bailout from a stalemated Springfield…

You too could be on the hook for this debacle.

Head on over to the Chicago Tribune website here to get the full story on this latest tax hike.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Project Prepper, Part 37: Getting Back Into Shape

As I approach another birthday, I smile when I think back to the early nineties when a friend and I would head down to Chicago’s lakefront and regularly jog a good portion of the 18.5-mile Chicago Lakefront Trail for exercise. I was in my late teens at the time, and in the best shape of my life.

Day Off Jogging Lakefront Car Show (Summer 1991)

Day Off Jogging
Lakefront Car Show (Summer 1991)

ANY CHARACTER HERE

Fast forward to today. I’m nowhere near the same kind of shape I was almost a quarter of a century ago. Not countering the effects from years of living a sedentary lifestyle and working in front of computer screens for hours on end has taken a toll on my physical fitness.

That being said, I decided some time ago that as part of the “Project Prepper” series of posts, I’d work hard at getting back into shape. From the beginning of my ongoing education about prepping, I realized not being “fit” could be a serious hindrance to what one’s trying to achieve by prepping. For example, let’s say I’m employed in an office building in a major U.S. city, and I’m prepping for a significant emergency/disaster that could happen while I’m at work. If the event occurs, there’s a good chance I may end up needing to hoof it out of that location (possibly within a certain amount of time) in order to reach safety. If I’m not up to the task physically, I could be in real trouble.


“911 WTC people in chaos taking shelter – with sound part1 – archival stock footage”
YouTube Video

So I’m going to get back in shape. I’ll be putting together the regimen of exercises in the coming days. As for the standards I’m shooting for, I’m leaning towards those embraced by Blackwater, Inc. Founder and former CEO Erik Prince talked about them in his recently published book entitled Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror:

Our employees may have been retired from the military, but Blackwater didn’t hire your typical “retiree.” After the eight-week Moyock training programs that turned those veterans into diplomatic security professionals, our final physical fitness test standards required men to run one and a half miles in less than ten minutes, forty-five seconds; execute twelve pull-ups in a row, seventy-five push-ups done in two one-minute sets, and seventy-five sit-ups in two one-minute sets; and drag a 175-pound dummy eighty feet in under one minute

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Now if I could just find a 175-pound dummy…

Anyway, that’s what I’m thinking right now. I am certain about one thing though. It’s imperative I get back into shape pronto, not only because doing so allows me to explore prepping more fully as part of these posts, but also because I’m at that age (40-something) where looking after my health needs to be more of a priority than it has been in the past.

Until next time…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Illinois On Pace To Run $5 Billion Deficit

“Gaze upon the Illinois landscape today and things may seem OK. Schools opened last week, the roads are getting repaired, the state fair was held, the University of Illinois begins a new academic year tomorrow, the state government’s even paying its bills.

Enjoy this period of normality. It isn’t going to last much longer…”

-Tom Kacich, reporter/columnist at The News-Gazette (Champaign-Urbana), August 23, 2015

More bad news about Illinois’ fiscal health. Natasha Korecki reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website Monday:

Illinois is paying its bills – by court mandate — since Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner were unable to reach a budget agreement. Rauner vetoed a Democrat-authored financial plan in June, saying it was out of balance by some $4 billion. The new fiscal year came and went July 1 without a new plan in place. Both sides say they’re willing to negotiate, but remain locked into their positions. Rauner wants a series of changes to benefit businesses and weaken unions in Illinois. Democrats oppose the proposals and say they shouldn’t be attached to a budget…

A recent analysis by Senate Democrats indicates that because of various contracts, decrees and court orders compelling spending, the state had already committed 90 percent of its revenues and was on pace to be $5 billion in the hole

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Kacich added from my old stomping grounds:

In May the Democrats who control the Legislature approved a budget that called for spending about $36.5 billion.

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed it, calling it “unconstitutional” and “unbalanced.”

You want to see unbalanced?

Even without a constitutional budget in place, the state is still spending money, and eventually it could rise to a level of spending greater than the budget the Democrats sent him in May.

During a Senate hearing last week on an additional appropriation of $373 million for MAP grants for low-income college students — it passed and will go to the House for near-certain approval — Democratic legislators admitted the state is operating at a “spend rate” of 90 percent on a $38 billion budget

Anticipated revenue for the year, meanwhile, is the range of $32 billion, or $33 billion if the economy takes off.

Ugh…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

$36.5 billion was the proposed budget. It was vetoed. The state is currently operating at a 90 percent “spend rate” of a $38 billion budget. And anticipated revenue for the year is only $32-$33 billion.

Not good.

Kacich thinks a tax increase, “that may or may not be bigger than the one that was phased out on Jan. 1.,” is headed our way.

I think he’s right about that tax hike. And it’s something Illinoisans may want to take into account concerning their personal finances in the near future.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Kacich, Tom. “Tom Kacich: Enjoy the calm; the storm is on the way.” The News-Gazette. 23 Aug. 2015. (http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2015-08-23/tom-kacich-enjoy-calm-storm-way.html). 26 Aug. 2015.

Korecki, Natasha. “Comptroller: Illinois facing ‘severe cash shortage.’ Chicago Sun-Times. 24 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/903797/comptroller-illinois-facing-severe-cash-shortage). 26 Aug. 2015.

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Glenn Beck: ‘Something Bad Is Coming Our Way… Here’s What I Would Suggest You Do’

Echoing what Damian McBride, a former special adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, tweeted Monday was Glenn Beck. The American television/radio host and producer, political commentator, author, and entrepreneur told listeners yesterday on his radio program:

I believe there is something in our collective conscience, I believe there is something that is telling people all around, all around the globe, something bad is coming our way. And I think everybody feels it. So here’s what I would suggest you do. I would suggest that you have, you pay attention to what is in your 401(k). You make sure that there is some sort of stop on your 401(k) so you can’t just lose everything on your 401(k). That if you do have stocks you call your broker today and make sure that you have some sort of stop at 5 percent or 10 percent or whatever else you’re ready to risk. I would highly suggest that you have enough cash for a week. This is not the big crash. I just don’t believe that. Maybe it is- I don’t believe that. I’m always bad on timing, so seeing that I feel like it’s not, it probably is. However, there is going to come a time when things just stop working and they shut everything down. And they stop a run on the bank and everything else. And I don’t think we’re there. But, I would suggest that you have a week’s worth of cash on hand. And the only reason why you should have a week’s worth of cash on hand is in case they do at some point close the banks just to be able to stabilize the situation. Because that will happen at some point. I don’t think it’s happening today, but that will happen at some point. So you should have a week’s worth because what happens is, we have seen this happening now recently in other countries where they just limit the amount that you can take out. And so everybody just gets $200, you know, every couple of days you can have $200, but that’s it. I would just make sure that you have looked at your food storage, and your 72-hour food storage. If you’ve had gold or silver or whatever it is that you feel good about, you have those things on hand. Have you replenished your ammunition in your guns? How are you doing with God? Those are all the doomsday things to do, but if you have any of those unchecked on your list, I would make a point to start doing them today, because we are headed for trouble.


“Something Bad Is Coming | “The Glenn Beck Radio Program”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Good Article On British Preppers

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
Advice on the looming crash, No. 1: get hard cash in a safe place now; don’t assume banks and cash points will be open, or bank cards will work”

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
“Crash advice No. 2: do you have enough bottled water, tinned goods & other essentials at home to live a month indoors? If not, get shopping.”

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
“Crash advice No. 3: agree a rally point with your loved ones in case transport and communications get cut off; somewhere you can all head to.”

“Damian McBride @ DPMcBride- Aug 24
I’m presuming the Central Banks will intervene to stop this market slide but that will just make the eventual, inescapable crash even worse.”

-Tweets from Damian McBride, former special adviser to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as global stock markets continue to plunge this week

Earlier this evening I came across a good article about British preppers on the website of the Mirror (UK).

One of the reasons I call the piece “good” is that the author, Jeff Parsons, reported on prepping without the typical bias and ridicule found in most other mainstream media works on this subject.

The Mirror Online met with a “survival expert that tells it like it is”- Steve Hart of the British prepping website ukpreppersguide.co.uk- who proceeded to explain the activity as:

Prepping itself is just another form of insurance. People have life, car or pet insurance for the “what ifs” – this is just looking at a “what if” from a slightly different perspective.

What if a serious earthquake hits? Or a tsunami or a volcano or even a bio-terrorism attack?

Funny. That’s pretty much how I’ve come to describe prepping as.

The article is an interesting look at preppers “across the pond”- with some basic prepping tips thrown in.

You can read the entire piece over on the Mirror website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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REI Survival-Related Classes In The Chicago Area For September

Chicago-area readers- below are survival-related classes from REI this September:

Backcountry Navigation with a Map & Compass- Level 1, Deer Grove Forest Preserve- Grove 5 (northwest suburbs- Palatine), September 5, 9 AM-2 PM, $60 member/$80 non-member, 5 spots left
Wilderness Survival: 3-Season Skills, Deer Grove Forest Preserve- Grove 5 (northwest suburbs- Palatine), September 12, 9 AM-2 PM, $65 member/$85 non-member, 11 spots left
Introduction to Backcountry Skills Class, Blackwell Forest Preserve- McKee Marsh (west suburbs- Warrenville), September 13, 9 AM-2 PM, $60 member/$80 non-member, 10 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Schaumburg REI (northwest suburbs- Schaumburg), September 16, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 9 spots left
Preparing for the Unexpected- Outdoor Emergency Basics, Lincoln Park REI (city north- Chicago), September 17, 7:00-8:30 PM, Free, 34 spots left
Wilderness First Aid with WMI and REI, Ping Tom Memorial Park- Fieldhouse (city south- Chicago), September 26, 9AM, to September 27, 6 PM, $225 member/$255 non-member, 4 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Northbrook REI (north suburbs- Northbrook), September 28, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 12 spots left
Preparing for the Unexpected- Outdoor Emergency Basics, Schaumburg REI (northwest suburbs- Schaumburg), September 30, 7:00-8:30 PM, Free, 25 spots left

REI membership is still available for only a one-time fee of $20. For more information about REI, visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Posting of information about any third-party instruction is not to be construed as being a recommendation from Survival And Prosperity and its editor, unless specifically indicated. I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 Emergencies, Gear, Health, Preparedness, Training No Comments

Signs Of The Time, Part 87

It’s been interesting watching the run-up to the recent carnage on Wall Street.

For some time now, the “crash prophets” who correctly-called the housing market bubble and 2008 economic crisis have been warning the stock market was frothy, if not in bubble territory.

Meanwhile, the Pollyannas who didn’t see either of those events from the last decade convinced themselves that not only had the United States managed to get on solid footing again after the blatant “papering over” of the debacle that reared its ugly head seven years ago, but that U.S equities and their valuations were a fair reflection of an economic “recovery” that was charging “full-steam ahead.”

At the same time, the Pollyannas (with the assistance of the financial mainstream media) ridiculed the “prophets” at any chance they got.

Reminds me a lot of that time period from roughly 2004 to 2008, until the Pollyannas got spanked hard and many of their mouthpieces were put out to pasture.

Make no mistake about it, America’s financial crash is coming.

The powers-that-be can only “kick the can down the road” until the road runs out. And that time is almost here.

Is the recent stock market plunge the event that pushes us over the edge?

I’m not sure it is. That being said, the dive has resulted in some serious financial losses. Steve Goldstein, the D.C. Bureau Chief for the MarketWatch website, wrote this afternoon:

As of March 31, households and nonprofits held $24.1 trillion in stocks. That’s both directly, and through mutual funds, pension funds and the like. That also includes the holdings of U.S.-based hedge funds, though you’d have to think that most hedge funds are held by households.

Using the Dow Jones Total Stock Market index through midmorning trade, that number had dropped to $22.32 trillion.

In other words, a cool $1.8 trillion has been lost between now and the first quarter — and overwhelmingly, those losses occurred in the last few days…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

$1.8 trillion. Whew. After riding the bull for so long, it looks like the Pollyannas weren’t expecting the beast to pull an abrupt about-face… and gore them.


The White Stripes, Conquest (2007)
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Source:

Goldstein, Steve. “Households just saw $1.8 trillion in wealth vanish as stocks fall.” MarketWatch. 24 Aug. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/households-still-hold-22-trillion-in-stocks-even-after-market-rout-2015-08-24). 24 Aug. 2015.

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Paladin Press 45% Off Everything Sale Ends Tuesday Noon ET

Boulder, Colorado-based publisher and affiliate marketing partner Paladin Press (blogged about here) is having a 45% Off Everything Sale until tomorrow at noon Eastern Time. From their website (down the left sidebar):

Paladin Celebrates Its 45th Anniversary By Offering 45% Off Everything
Use Code PALADIN45 At Checkout.
Now Thru August 25, 2015, At Noon ET.

Cannot Be Combined With Any Other Offer
Not Available To Wholesalers

Congratulations Paladin!

FYI, I took advantage of this huge sale and placed my own order at lunchtime today. A two-book set that would have cost me $62 with shipping came out to only $36.35 with shipping after that generous discount was applied.

Interested in saving some big bucks? Head on over to Paladin Press ASAP (remember, the sale ends tomorrow at noon Eastern Time). If you buy anything, don’t forget to use that code at checkout.

Please note I receive a commission on every item purchased via the above link.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills Offering Survival-Related Training Classes In September

There’s a number of survival-related training opportunities scheduled for September at the Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills (first blogged about here). From the school’s “Calendar Of Events” page:

Wilderness Survival 101
Saturday, September 12, 2015
1:00pm- 4:00pm

The wilderness survival basics course teaches you the necessary tools and skills needed to get by in the unforeseeable event of a wilderness emergency. By the end of this course you will know what tools and equipment you should never leave your home without, how to prioritize what actions you take to not die in a wilderness survival situation, how to build a survival shelter with nothing more than what will fit into your pocket and much more. Every year hundreds of people die in the wilderness because they don’t know these skills. Don’t become part of that static. Be prepared to survive.

Skills to be covered:
Different types of survival kits and equipment
Wilderness survival priorities
Fire craft 101
Basic shelter construction
Water procurement

$30 per person

Advanced Wilderness Survival Weekend (overnight) WSC-201
Sat, Sep. 19, 2015 8:00am- Sun, Sep. 20, 2015 8:00am

Want to know how to survive in the wilderness? Well this is the ultimate course to learn how. In this class you will learn the techniques necessary to survive in the wilderness and put them to the test in an overnight survival trip. This class is not for the faint of heart or for those afraid to get dirty. This class is the real deal and will happen whatever the weather conditions. Each student is required to bring an approved survival kit along with a 30 deg or colder rated sleeping bag and a change of dry clothing. Also each student will need prior written consent from WSC-101 instructor to attend.

Skills to be covered:
Proper use of a home-made survival kit.
Building primitive survival shelters
Fire craft
Intro to fire by friction
Water collection and purification
Survival tools
Primitive traps
Intro to land Navigation
How to survive the night in the wilderness
Foraging

Class itinerary:
8:00 am – Meet at parking location
8:30 am – Find a place to build a shelter
8:30 – 11:30 Build shelter
11:30 – 12:00 Eat lunch
12:00 – 2:00 Navigate to and collect water
2:00 – 4:00 Collect fire wood, tinder and build a fire without matches or a lighter
4:00 – 5:00 Build water purifier and purify drinking water collected.
5:00 – 6:00 Dinner
6:00 – 9:00 Final touches on shelter and sleeping arrangement
9:00 – 6:00 Campfire and survive the night
6:00 – 8:00 Strike camp and hike to civilization

$199 per person

Fire by Friction 201
Sunday, September 20, 2015
12:00pm- 3:00pm

This is a must have skill for anyone seeking to be self-reliant. This course will teach you not only how to build a fire that will start in just about any weather but how to do it using nothing more than a few pieces of wood and some string. By the end of this course you will understand how to properly prep a fire, making a tinder birds nest and most importantly how to spin out an ember and blow it into a raging fire.

Skills to be covered:
The bow drill kit fundamentals
Collecting fire material
Forming a birds nest
Prepping the fire
Using the kit to spin an ember
Blowing an ember into a flame

$30 per person

For more information and/or to sign up for the above instruction, head on over to the Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Posting of information about any third-party instruction is not to be construed as being a recommendation from Survival And Prosperity and its editor, unless specifically indicated. I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein.)

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Robert Shiller: Stock Plunge ‘Might Create Aftershocks In Either Direction In The Short Run’

Robert Shiller, the Yale professor credited with correctly-calling the “dot-com” and housing busts last decade, has been voicing his concerns about U.S. stock prices for quite some time now. I blogged back on December 1, 2013:

These days, Dr. Shiller is worried about U.S. stocks once more. Madeline Chambers reported on Reuters.com this morning:

An American who won this year’s Nobel Prize for economics believes sharp rises in equity and property prices could lead to a dangerous financial bubble and may end badly, he told a German magazine.

Robert Shiller, who won the esteemed award with two other Americans for research into market prices and asset bubbles, pinpointed the U.S. stock market and Brazilian property market as areas of concern.

“I am not yet sounding the alarm. But in many countries stock exchanges are at a high level and prices have risen sharply in some property markets,” Shiller told Sunday’s Der Spiegel magazine. “That could end badly,” he said.

“I am most worried about the boom in the U.S. stock market. Also because our economy is still weak and vulnerable,” he said, describing the financial and technology sectors as overvalued.

“Our economy is still weak and vulnerable.”

My thoughts exactly- though I wish it weren’t so.

While Dr. Shiller doesn’t say U.S. stocks are in a bubble, I wonder if he wouldn’t consider them relatively “frothy”?

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

With U.S. equities in a correction for the first time since 2011, I’ve been curious what the author of the 2000 book Irrational Exuberance (now in its 3rd edition) is thinking these days. Dr. Shiller was on the CNBC TV show Squawk on the Street Friday and said:

I’m not surprised. I don’t know if this is a big story. But my story has been, you’re correct, that valuations are high, quite high, by historical standards. There’s only been a few other episodes in U.S. history when they’ve been this high.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

When asked how much more of a “shakeout” he sees, Shiller told viewers:

Here’s the problem. We really find it very difficult to predict short-term changes. The easier thing to predict is volatility, and I think that the shocks that we just saw yesterday might create aftershocks in either direction in the short run. We’ve been in a low volatility era. And this is a big move down, but it’s not the end of the world. I’m not sure there will be a huge reaction to it.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Historically valuations are high: Robert Shiller”
CNBC Video

While I didn’t see this part of the interview, Zack Guzman added on the CNBC website Friday:

While Shiller conceded the possibility that the selloff could “create aftershocks in either direction in the short-term,” he highlighted a psychological bias for those in the periphery to “over focus on the latest news.”

“When people who don’t normally pay attention to the market are brought in, it can feed on itself like an epidemic,” he said.

With a long-term view in mind, however, Shiller reminded investors a correction would not be the end of the world, citing confidence China would see renewed growth and the comeback of a healthy U.S. housing market…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Source:

Guzman, Zack. “Market ‘aftershocks’ are coming: Robert Shiller.” CNBC. 21 Aug. 2015. (http://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/21/market-aftershocks-are-coming-robert-shiller.html). 23 Aug. 2015.

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Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 Asia, Crash Prophets, Housing, Investing, Stocks No Comments

Chicago: Prepare For Rising Electric Bills

When looking at Chicago-area properties to purchase in 2013, my girlfriend and I preferred the house we bought be “cheap” to heat and cool as we suspected utility bills would keep getting more expensive.

Luckily, the home we live in “fit the bill” (no pun intended), and just as we predicted, area utility companies keep raising rates.

This morning, I opened up my Sunday paper and spotted the following headline:

“Chicagoans’ electricity costs to rise”

Cythia Dizikes wrote in the Chicago Tribune:

Chicagoans will see a portion of their electricity bills rise in coming years because of new electric grid rules tied to the polar vortex, according to power auction results that were made public Friday.

The auction will increase part of the average ComEd residential customer’s electricity bill in 2018-19 by roughly $82 a year compared with what customers are paying now, and by about $100 a year compared with what they might pay in 2017-18, according to industry experts. The increases per month in the ComEd region are about two to three times greater than what some analysts had been predicting…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Last year, ComEd also made local headlines for higher electric bills. I noted on May 7, 2014:

Local utility and energy delivery company Commonwealth Edison is a major provider of electricity to the Chicago and Northern Illinois region. Residents of these areas served by ComEd could see their electric bills jump in the weeks ahead. Steve Daniels reported on the Crain’s Chicago Business website earlier today:

Commonwealth Edison Co.’s residential rates will rise 20 percent beginning in June as a new charge for electricity reflects rising costs to secure supply during peak-demand periods from power plants.

ComEd’s new energy charge of 7.596 cents per kilowatt-hour, filed yesterday with the Illinois Commerce Commission, is 38 percent higher than the 5.52 cents its customers are paying now…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Next up? Higher heating bills again, I’m guessing.

As I told my girlfriend at lunchtime today, it will be interesting to see how long Chicagoland residents put up with the new fee here, the tax hike there, the higher utility costs around the corner- and the rate at which they come.

The aggregate pain from all these rapid hits to pocketbooks on Main Street and down in the city can’t possibly elicit a pleasant response.

Stay tuned…

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Dizikes, Cynthia. “Chicago ComEd customers to be charged more for electricity in coming years.” Chicago Tribune. 22 Aug. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/ct-comed-charges-increase-met-20150821-story.html). 23 Aug. 2015.

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Quote For The Week

“The main purpose of the stock market is to make fools of as many men as possible.”

-Bernard Baruch (American financier, stock investor, statesman, political consultant, and philanthropist. 1870-1965)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Sunday, August 23rd, 2015 Quote For The Week, Stocks No Comments

My Thoughts On Chicago’s Financial Crisis

I know I’ve been blogging a lot about Chicago/Cook County/Illinois lately. Which should come as no surprise to regular Survival And Prosperity readers considering I’ve talked about how I was born on the West Side, was raised around that area, and lived on the Northwest Side until I moved to the northwest suburbs two years ago.

Both the Chicagoland area and Illinois have been on my mind a lot recently. I fear we’re on the verge of some major upheaval stemming from decades of fiscal mismanagement by policymakers from both sides of the political aisle (some might think this blog only targets Democrats- over the years I’ve demonstrated everyone’s “fair game”). And by verge, I mean in the coming weeks. Focusing on Chicago today, what might kick it off (regular observers have witnessed the crisis growing for some time now)? I suspect the following. From the Chicago Tribune website back on July 31:

At a news conference this week, the mayor would not rule out a politically unpopular property tax hike, saying he’ll wait to show his hand until September, when he rolls out “a full budget with all parts in there.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A good portion of the coming pain is going to be felt by the Chicago taxpayer. What kind of “pain” am I talking about? That which I’ve been blogging about for a couple of years now- new/higher fees, fines, and taxes, coupled with reduced government services. Last night’s post about potential revenue generators Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council are mulling over (hat tip Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times) should give Chicagoans a better picture of what’s headed their way (a property tax hike and garbage collection fee look likely). Concerning cutbacks in government services, I think that’s already begun. For example, the manpower shortage in the Chicago Police Department (hat tip Second City Cop) that’s existed for some years now. Down the road, I predict the average Chicago taxpayer will find it increasingly difficult to afford living in the city, let alone doing it safely as local government struggles to provide effective, efficient services to constituents.

Now, it’s bad enough Chicago/Cook County/Illinois are in real financial trouble. But then there’s the legitimate concern of a slowing economy/recession being right around the corner, never mind that coming financial crash I started blogging about back on Memorial Day Weekend 2007.

So what’s a Chicago taxpayer to do? This former Chicago resident picked up and left the city limits in 2013. Concerned about future tax and public safety liabilities, my girlfriend and I reluctantly departed our “suburb in the city” and moved into a house in a not-too-far away authentic suburb. Granted, we’ll still be on the hook for county and state problems, but it’s what makes sense for us in the short-term.

As much as I blast Chicago on Survival And Prosperity (“tough love”), I’m not convinced the city’s going to go “belly-up.” I think there’s a good chance it could be run by something similar to the Emergency Financial Control Board in New York City from 1975 until 1986 (talked about here back in April), but even a setback like that won’t be the end of the “City By The Lake,” just like it wasn’t for the “Big Apple.” I do predict city life is going to get real hairy once the “balloon goes up,” but I think that will be the case in a lot of urban areas nationwide.

That’s my two cents on Chicago’s financial crisis- for now. Chicago readers of this blog- what are you planning to do about the crisis? Or, what are you already doing? Maybe you don’t think a crisis exists? Please share your thoughts or experiences in the “Comments” section of this post, as I’d really like to talk more about this going forward.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

Source:

Dardick, Hal. “Emanuel needs $754M more to make ends meet.” Chicago Tribune. 31 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-rahm-emanuel-chicago-budget-shortfall-met-0801-20150731-story.html). 21 Aug. 2015.

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Chicago Taxpayers To Be Hit With Property Tax Hike, Garbage Collection Fee?

Chicagoans- think all the recent talk of new/higher fees, fines, and taxes is garbage?

You’re right, in a way.

I just finished reading some material from Chicago Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman over on that paper’s website.

Chicago taxpayers had better be prepared for their pocketbooks to take a hit in the coming months.

Spielman talked Sunday afternoon about the City’s need for $754 million in new revenue, and the options submitted by City Council to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help “generate” it. That included:

• Property tax hike
• Garbage collection fee
• Ride-hailing companies (Uber) surcharge
• Congestion fee
• Bicycle license
• Gas tax hike
• Sales tax hike
• City income tax

Which ones stand a good chance of being put into play by City Hall? Spielman wrote:

Ald. Carrie Austin, outspoken chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee, put Emanuel on the spot during the mayoral campaign when she called a post-election property tax hike inevitable. But she was right — especially now that a Circuit Court judge has overturned Emanuel’s plan to save two of four city employee pension funds.

The only question is, how much will property taxes be going up?

Emanuel has already offered to raise property taxes by $225 million for the Chicago Public Schools, provided teachers accept the equivalent of a 7 percent pay cut and the state reimburses CPS for “normal” pension costs…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

In a separate Sun-Times piece from last night, Spielman added:

Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), Emanuel’s City Council floor leader, said it’s no longer an issue of whether Chicago will have a garbage-collection fee. The question is, how much?

“That’s where the real discussion will take place. It will be around the cost, rather than the enablement. We need to see the numbers that show how much we’ll save and how much it would generate,” he said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Property tax hike. Check. Garbage collection fee. Check.

Waiting to see what actually transpires. In the mean time, Chicago taxpayers might want to check out those Spielman articles to get a better idea of what might be in store for them shortly.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Property tax hike, garbage fee, congestion tax all on the table.” Chicago Sun-Times. 16 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/876236/chicago-budget-revenue-tax-ideas). 20 Aug. 2015.

Spielman, Fran. “Chicago homeowners likely to pay for garbage pickup soon.” Chicago Sun-Times. 19 Aug. 2015. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/891070/garbage-collection-fee-looks-likely-chicago-homeowners). 20 Aug. 2015.

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Survey: Illinois Runner-Up State For ‘Worst Climates For Small Business’

Continuing Tuesday’s discussion about Illinois not being business friendly, I spotted a piece last night on the MarketWatch website entitled, “The best state and city for small business are…” Caitlin Huston reported yesterday afternoon:

The best state for small business owners is Texas and the worst is Rhode Island, according to an annual survey revealed Tuesday.

The survey, conducted by technology marketplace Thumbtack, contends that the friendliest states and towns for small businesses offer easier or non-existent licensing requirements. On a city basis, the report called Manchester, N.H., the best and Hartford, Conn., the worst for small-business climate…

Huston noted that survey responses came from 17,633 small businesses, with most having 5 or fewer employees.

As for Illinois? It’s the state runner-up under the “Worst Climates for Small Business” category, losing out to Rhode Island but ahead of Connecticut, California, and New York, in that order.

From the Thumbtack.com survey web page:

Small business owners gave California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Rhode Island an “F,” while Massachusetts, Maryland, and New York earned a “D” grade…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Digging deeper into the Thumbtack.com Small Business Friendliness Survey, the “Land of Lincoln” received an “F” for “ease of starting a business” and “overall friendliness.”

Nice. Real nice. Congratulations Illinois policymakers (not Rauner’s fault)- local and at the state level- on a “job” well done.

Then again, what would one expect from folks (not all of them, to be fair) who have never started/run a business in their lives?

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Huston, Caitlin. “The best state and city for small business are…” MarketWatch. 18 Aug. 2015. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-best-state-and-city-for-small-business-are-2015-08-18). 19 Aug. 2015.

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Wednesday, August 19th, 2015 Business, Government, Main Street No Comments


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