Cook County

2017 Tax Hits To Chicagoans

“Broken record” time.

“New/higher fees, fines, and taxes, and less government services.”

Regular readers of Survival And Prosperity (and older ones from my Boom2Bust days) know I’ve been warning about this for years now (since 2008?) concerning Chicago- as well as Cook County, Illinois, and lots of other places aroud the country.

And it’s pretty much what has transpired from what I’ve seen.

Particularly in the “Windy City”- where the hits keep on coming. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Chicago property owners hoping for a respite from rapidly rising taxes will be disappointed in 2017, when city government and Chicago Public Schools will continue digging deeper into their pocketbooks.

Two more major property tax increases are coming. So is a new tax on water and sewer service. And some city dwellers will face other rising costs: a fee for each store-provided disposable bag and slightly higher Park District fees.

Come mid-year, city and suburban residents will be paying a new sweetened beverage tax effective in all of Cook County, and another round of Metra fare hikes is coming soon. Here’s a look at what to expect…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dardick did a good job summarizing the dents Chicagoans (and Chicagoland residents) could expect to their finances in the new year. Head on over to the Tribune website here to get the entire story.

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

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Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson On Tackling Gun Violence

Yesterday morning while watching the local news I spotted Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson on WGN-TV (Chicago Channel 9) talking about the city’s gun violence. From his exchange with WGN’s Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash:

BAUMGARTEN: So I heard you mention at the Union Club when you spoke earlier this week that it’s basically about 1,000 gang members or offenders that are causing all these problems. Now when people hear that- why don’t you go arrest those guys? Or are they going to jail and getting back out? What’s happening?
JOHNSON: Well, we’ve gotten real good at predicting who these individuals will be. Unfortunately, we have to work within the framework of a little piece of paper called the Constitution. So we actually have to wait until they do something. So that list that we have is not really for enforcement, but it’s just more of an FYI so we know who the perpetrators are.
POTASH: Lawmakers have been working on a bill to kind of stiffen the penalties for gun possession. What is taking so long with that?
JOHNSON: So we, I’m optimistic that we’ll have it done at the beginning of the year. But in terms of what’s taking so long? I guess they just want to get the language of it right. Because it’s more important to get it right than to rush through it. But we have to do something. Because most of our violence in Chicago is perpetrated by repeat gun offenders. And until we change that culture, that mentality, we’re going to see the same things keep cycling through.
BAUMGARTEN: So ideally what would you like to see, or what is the goal? To have someone who has a gun go to jail for how long? What’s the goal?
JOHNSON: So with this particular piece of legislation, we’re not changing the sentencing years. What we’re doing is giving our judicial partners the wherewithal to be able to sentence them somewhere between the mid-range to high-end of the sentencing guideline, which will be I think the high-end is maybe 14 years. Mid-range will be about 6 years.
POTASH: And why wouldn’t they be doing that already?
JOHNSON: Well, I can’t answer that. That’s a question- that’s a million dollar question. But the fact of it is though we do have to do a better job of holding these individuals accountable for their gun crimes…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“CPD Supt. Eddie Johnson on November crime states”
WGN-TV Video

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

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Friday, December 2nd, 2016 Crime, Legal, Public Safety, Self-Defense Comments Off on Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson On Tackling Gun Violence

My Early Voting Experience In Cook County, Illinois

For those planning to cast a ballot in the November 8, 2016, elections, you might want to consider taking advantage of the last day of “early voting” if the opportunity presents itself.

Figuring that voter turnout on Election Day might be heavy around these parts, Friday morning after rush hour my girlfriend and I headed down to our designated early voting location- a public library in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. The room in which the voting was taking place wasn’t packed to the gills, but it was busy enough that I had to wait in line to be checked-in. Here are a few highlights from that experience:

-A number of my fellow voters brought English-speaking translators with them. Since there looked to be only one seat per voting machine, it appeared these parties had to wait a bit until two adjacent machines/seats were simultaneously vacated so the voter could conduct their business.

-On that note, I don’t believe the voting place staffer who processed me- a very nice older Asian gentleman- spoke English too well. Still, he was able to communicate with me in the noisy room via head nods and hand gestures, so it all worked out fine in the end.

-Some party (again, seemingly English-challenged) was trying to make the case to staffers that one of their members should be permitted to vote due to the fact that the Cook County voter information card that was mailed to them was addressed to the “household” (for example, mine read “Hill Household”). Since this person was part of that household, it was argued they should be able to vote. I didn’t stick around long enough to see how that discussion panned out, but something tells me it will come up again somewhere in the next two days.

-The touch-screen voting machine I used functioned pretty good. The “Next” button was kind of “sticky” though.

-After reading stories in the news of voting machine “malfunctions” in other states, you bet I double-checked my ballot via the optional print out before it was cast.

-While the environment was somewhat hectic, those staffing the early voting location seemed like they had the situation under control. Hat-tip to them.

-Still, the worker collecting the “cards” used in the voting machines did not give me an “I Voted” sticker as I departed. He was sure to bestow one on my girlfriend, but not me. For a brief instant I actually thought about going back inside to get a sticker. Am I lame or what?

Anyway, that was my experience at a Cook County early voting location before the weekend. Not too horrible. But considering the potential crowds/hiccups at the polling places Tuesday, like I said, you might want to consider taking advantage of the last day of “early voting” if the opportunity presents itself.

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

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Monday, November 7th, 2016 Government Comments Off on My Early Voting Experience In Cook County, Illinois

Chicago Police Department Manpower Shortage Latest

“Chicago readers take note: The ‘thin blue line’ that exists in the Windy City will likely remain that way for the foreseeable future. Carry on accordingly.”

Survival And Prosperity, October 3, 2011

With the help of the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop, I became aware several years ago of the manpower shortage going on in the Chicago Police Department.

Subsequently, I started blogging about the situation from time to time.

As shootings in the city march past 2,300 for the year, attention is being drawn to Chicago’s “cop shortage” again. Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on July 20:

After three shootings this week in a gang-ridden South Side ward that includes Englewood and Back of the Yards, Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) is demanding that Emanuel finally make good on his 2011 campaign promise to hire 1,000 additional police officers.

In the meantime, Lopez wants Chicago Police officers now working in pairs for their own safety to get reinforcements from the Illinois National Guard, the Illinois State Police, the Cook County Sheriff’s office or all of the above

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

No DHS or other federal agencies?

On the subject of paying for more police, Alderman Lopez brought up taxes. Spielman added:

When Lopez was asked where he would find the money to hire 1,000 more police officers, he offered to raise property taxes- again.

That’s on top of the $588 million property tax increase approved last fall for police and fire pensions and school construction and the $250 million increase the Board of Education is about to approve for teacher pensions…

Remember what I’ve been saying for years now about new/higher fees, fines, and taxes for Chicagoans?

With news yesterday that the Fraternal Order of Police is urging its members to turn down all requests for “non-mandatory overtime” over the fast-approaching Labor Day weekend, Second City Cop blogged:

It is most certainly is a message to the administration- “Hire more cops!” seems to be what we’re reading. And that’s a perfectly appropriate message to be sending to the city- the Department is badly understaffed

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Shooting of 6-year-old girl revives demand for 1,000 more cops.” Chicago Sun-Times. 20 July 2016. (http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/shooting-of-six-year-old-resurrects-demands-for-1000-more-cops/). 26 July 2016.

SCC. “OT Boycott Gets Media Coverage.” Second City Cop. 26 July 2016. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2016/07/ot-boycott-gets-media-coverage.html). 26 July 2016.

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Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 Crime, Debt Crisis, Education, Employment, Entitlements, Government, Public Safety, Self-Defense, Taxes Comments Off on Chicago Police Department Manpower Shortage Latest

Message For Chicago, Cook County, And Illinois Readers

Readers of Survival And Prosperity might get the wrong impression that I’m rooting for Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois to “fail” based on my routine blogging about their financial, crime, and political woes.

Actually, I do this because I care deeply about the region and its residents.

It’s been my experience that Chicagoans and Illinoisans are pretty decent people overall. I’ve found many of them to be down-to-earth and quick to lend a helping hand to neighbors and strangers alike.

It’s my personal opinion that these woes (interconnected in my mind) I speak of will only intensify in the coming years. The trend is not our friend here, and if anything, since many of the people who helped bring about this mess are still in charge, is it reasonable to expect they’ll be the ones to fix it?

In the meantime, I predict many Illinoisans will be subject to varying degrees of financial and physical pain while this debacle plays out.

As this is a plausible scenario, have local readers of Survival And Prosperity contemplated what’s at stake should conditions keep deteriorating? What would be your personal exposure if events play out the way I expect them to? Financial vulnerabilities? Personal safety shortcomings? Individual circumstances will undoubtedly vary.

Are the wheels turning in your head?

Good. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish with such posts.

The intent is not to scare. Rather, it’s rooted in care.

It’s my hope that informing Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois residents of the precarious situation at hand and providing food for thought might aid successful navigation through what will likely be unfamiliar territory for most.

Wishing everyone all the best with that,

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

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Monday, July 18th, 2016 Crime, Debt Crisis, Essential Reading, Fiscal Policy, Government, Main Street, Preparedness, Public Safety, Security, Self-Defense Comments Off on Message For Chicago, Cook County, And Illinois Readers

City Of Chicago’s Total Unfunded Liabilities Grew To Nearly $24 Billion In 2015

It’s been a while since I last blogged about the Illinois Policy Institute, a Chicago-based non-partisan research organization “generating public policy solutions aimed at promoting personal freedom and prosperity in Illinois.” Yet earlier this week, Ted Dabrowski and John Klingner published a sobering piece on the Institute’s website about Chicago’s mounting financial woes that just needs to be disseminated. From their article:

Chicago property owners concerned about their future property-tax bills have had plenty to worry about over the past year- but a new report on the city’s crumbling finances has all but ensured that property-tax hikes will continue to be a painful reality for local homeowners.

The city already passed a $700 million hike in October 2015 to help plug the hole in police and firefighter pensions, and the city is expected to raise property taxes by another $250 million to fund ailing Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, pensions. And with billions more in other health care and pension shortfalls still unfunded, more hikes are on the way.

But the newest debt numbers in the city’s 2015 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, show that without massive pension reforms, the city’s tax hikes are just beginning. The report found that the total city debt Chicagoans are on the hook for has more than tripled since 2014.

Chicago’s total unfunded liabilities have jumped by over $17 billion, growing to nearly $24 billion in 2015 from $6.5 billion in 2014. The increase is mostly due to new accounting standards and the fact that in March the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the city’s recent attempt to reform its broken municipal-workers and laborers pension funds.

Add to that their share of sister-government and Cook County pension and health care costs and long-term debt, and Chicagoans are on the hook for over $65 billion

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Disturbing stuff. But that’s reality for you.

You know, last week I read an “interesting” anonymous comment on the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop. From the July 7 post entitled “And There it is….”:

Millennials as they are called are falling over themselves to move here. Look at Ukrainian village, Buck town south loop West loop, Lincoln Park. The city is becoming gentrified. Major companies are moving their headquarters here. City is on the upswing like it or not.

“City is on the upswing like it or not.”

Never mind its financial cancer that’s bound to metastasize in due time…

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

Sources:

Dabrowski, Ted and Klingner, John. “Chicago’s Total Debt More Than Triples To Over $24B In 2015.” Illinois Policy Institute. 11 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

SCC. “And There it is…” Second City Cop. 7 July 2016. (https://www.illinoispolicy.org/chicagos-total-debt-more-than-triples-to-over-24b-in-2015/). 14 July 2016.

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Thursday, July 14th, 2016 Debt Crisis, Education, Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Health, Housing, Legal, Public Safety, Taxes Comments Off on City Of Chicago’s Total Unfunded Liabilities Grew To Nearly $24 Billion In 2015

Illinois Democrats Savaged By African-American Gun Rights Activist Colion Noir

“Every cop on the street knows who’s doing the killing- it’s the gang members and felons these same fearless politicians refuse to prosecute and throw in prison. And all these anti-gun politicians have to offer is gun control… and then when that doesn’t work, more gun control.

You politicians don’t represent these communities- you’re political parasites, where your political career thrives on exploiting the conditions in these places.

Because if you were trying to save lives, you’d be having a national day of action to demonstrate ways to stop the gang violence in the inner city, not how to come up with more laws that haven’t worked and that you don’t enforce in the first place…”

-Colion Noir, African-American gun rights activist, attorney, and National Rifle Association member/commentator, calling out Illinois Democrats on their gun control agenda


“Commentators | S6 E16: ‘How Not To Fix Inner-City Gun Violence’”
YouTube Video

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

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Thursday, July 7th, 2016 Crime, Firearms, Government, Gun Rights, Hunting, Legal, Political Parties, Public Safety, Self-Defense, Shooting Sports Comments Off on Illinois Democrats Savaged By African-American Gun Rights Activist Colion Noir

Signs Of The Time, Part 108

After blogging back on June 21 about the next round of property tax bills due to hit Cook County, Illinois, residents’ mailboxes in the coming days, I told my girlfriend to pay attention to the local mainstream news outlets as there would be no shortage of pissed-off Chicago homeowners (their hit an average 13 percent higher than last year) airing their grievances.

Sure enough, I was watching Chicago ABC affiliate Channel 7 Tuesday when the following segment appeared near the top of the evening news broadcast:


“Cook County Property Tax Bills Cause Outrage”
ABC Chicago Video

“Higher/new fees, fines, and taxes in conjunction with reduced government services going forward”

Truly a sign of the times for Chicagoans… and an increasing number of other Americans.

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

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Wednesday, July 6th, 2016 Debt Crisis, Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Housing, Signs Of The Time, Taxes Comments Off on Signs Of The Time, Part 108

Cook County, Illinois, Faces $174 Million Shortfall

From the Cook County, Illinois, website (under “News) last Thursday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today released the preliminary forecast for the County’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget, signaling that difficult financial choices are on the horizon as the County develops its budget over the next several months.

Preckwinkle announced a projected operating shortfall for FY2017 of $174.3 million…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website on June 30:

A year after reversing course and reinstating a hefty sales tax increase that helped spell the political demise of her predecessor, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Thursday warned of more potential tax hikes to come.

Without cuts or additional taxes, fines and fees — or some combination of those options — the county expects to fall more than $174 million short of what would be needed to pay the bills in the budget year that starts Dec. 1.

Closing the gap “will not be easy, but residents will be assured that we will do so by making tough decisions required,” Preckwinkle said while presenting her preliminary budget in an annual ritual that invariably includes significant shortfall projections.

The county will focus on cutting costs, but “everything is on the table,” including tax increases and layoffs, Preckwinkle said

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Dardick noted that the Cook County Board President ruled out hiking property taxes this time around.

Like I’ve been warning for a number of years now- Chicagoans, Cook County residents and Illinoisans should expect higher/new fees, fines, and taxes in conjunction with reduced government services going forward.

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal. “Preckwinkle: Tax hike, budget cuts on table as county faces $174M shortfall.” Chicago Tribune. 30 June 2016. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-budget-shortfall-met-0631-20160630-story.html). 5 July 2016.

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Tuesday, July 5th, 2016 Debt Crisis, Deficits, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes Comments Off on Cook County, Illinois, Faces $174 Million Shortfall

More Financial Pain For Many Chicago Homeowners In The Coming Days

When it comes to keeping on top of the latest financial developments coming out Chicago, I’ve been out of the loop lately (no pun intended).

As if that really mattered. Like I’ve been saying for some time now- the writing is on the wall for the “Windy City” concerning its finances.

I’ve also pointed out time and time again Chicagoans should expect higher/new fees, fines, and taxes (in conjunction with less government services) going forward.

Case in point- the next round of property tax bills. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website last week:

Chicago homeowners should brace themselves for sticker shock when they open their mailbox at the end of the month: property tax bills on average 13 percent higher than last year.

The big increase is mostly being driven by the record tax increase Mayor Rahm Emanuel engineered last fall to fix city pension funds for police officers and firefighters.

Cook County Clerk David Orr released tax rate figures Monday, revealing the practical effects of City Hall’s painful decision. The owner of a single-family home with the current average sale price of about $225,000 can expect to see a property tax bill of $3,633, an increase of about $413

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Compare this to an overall 9.3 percent citywide increase over the last three years, according to Dardick.

And just this morning one local TV news broadcast reported that the Chicago Teachers Union is demanding Mayor Emanuel raise taxes even more for school funding.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that more financial pain is heading Chicagoans’ way.

As for the rest of Cook County, the Tribune piece noted:

By comparison, homeowners in suburban Cook County typically can expect more modest increases, averaging 2 percent, although they already are paying substantially more than their city counterparts, according to Orr’s data…

Last I checked County finances weren’t too pretty either, so these suburban homeowners may very well be in the same boat as their city counterparts down the road.

For more information, check out Dardick’s entire article here on the Tribune website.

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

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Tuesday, June 21st, 2016 Debt Crisis, Education, Government, Housing, Main Street, Taxes Comments Off on More Financial Pain For Many Chicago Homeowners In The Coming Days
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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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