fee hikes

Flee Chicago By The End Of 2015?

April 7, 2015.

That’s the date of the next Municipal Runoff and Supplementary Aldermanic Election in the wake of the February 24, 2015, Municipal General Election in the city of Chicago, Illinois.

And that would be the ideal deadline for moving out of the “Windy City” if I still lived there due to the likelihood of fees, fines, and taxes being hiked (even more than they already have) shortly thereafter, along with additional government “belt-tightening.”

If not April 7, definitely by the end of the year. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website right before the weekend:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and aldermen won’t grapple this fall with the financial reckoning the city faces over its underfunded police and fire pension systems, budget officials acknowledged Thursday.

Instead, the Emanuel administration plans to take advantage of a state law that gives it until December 2015 to decide to make changes to its property tax levy. For years, both the current and former mayor have been saying property taxes would have to be hiked or services drastically cut to come up with the extra $550 million.

By the end of next year, the February city elections and any potential April runoffs will be history. Delaying a decision also will buy the city more time to get the General Assembly to enact pension changes that could significantly reduce the required payments to the two retirement funds..

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Fine. So the Illinois General Assembly votes to allow the City of Chicago to “kick the can down the road” on its pension fund payments. The well-publicized crisis isn’t going anywhere, as the public sector retirees are still owed their money.

(Editor’s note: Check out this graphic on the Tribune website showing Chicago’s pension debt rank compared to the 25 largest U.S. cities and Puerto Rico. It’s disturbing.)

And how about that “Sword of Damocles” hanging over the city’s head in the form of long-term debt it’s on the hook for? Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on July 26, 2013:

The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338 per resident.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Remember- those figures were from a year ago. Updated numbers should be out shortly.

Yep. If I hadn’t departed the city like I did last year, I’d be making plans to leave Chicago by the end of 2015 at the latest.

But that’s me. I understand individual circumstances vary, and there are residents who can’t leave or choose not to.

Despite what others may think, I have an idea this group can still weather the coming storm if they’re really up to the task. I’m guessing it will be somewhat harder though residing in a city already burdened with significant financial problems when challenging times arrive.

More about this in future posts…

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

Sources:

Dardick, Hal. “Chicago’s day of reckoning over pensions delayed.” Chicago Tribune. 1 Aug. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-rahm-emanuel-budget-hole-met-0801-20140801-story.html). 5 Aug. 2014.

Spielman, Fran. “City of Chicago’s cash cushion plummets, debt triples, arrests drop, water use rises.” Chicago Sun-Times. 26 July 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/21552920-761/city-by-the-numbers-cash-cushion-plummets-debt-triples-arrests-drop-water-use-rises.html). 5 Aug. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago’s Monthly Phone Tax To Rise 56 Percent?

New and higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

That’s what Chicagoans should expect going forward considering the city’s fiscal health and who’s running the show.

Fran Spielman reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday: Chicago wants to raise the monthly fee tacked on to hardline telephone and cell phone bills by 56 percent — to $3.90…

(Editor’s note: “After playing cat-and-mouse for days, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration came clean Thursday…” Beautifully worded; bold added for emphasis.)

Spielman continued:

Instead of simply asking the General Assembly to renew a $2.50-a-month surcharge due to expire July 1, cash-strapped Chicago is seizing the opportunity to get more money — by asking state lawmakers to raise the cap to “the highest monthly wireline surcharge imposed by any county or municipality” in Illinois.

The highest monthly telephone tax around the state is the $3.90 imposed in Putnam County. Under the bill Emanuel is hoping to push through in the waning days of the Legislature’s spring session, Chicago would be empowered to match that $3.90 — and go higher if any other city or town goes first.

The new and higher tax would apply to both cell phone bills and wireline phones, according to a summary sheet of the legislation distributed by City Hall. The bill would also empower the city raise the fee imposed on prepaid cell phones from the current “seven percent of the transaction amount” to nine percent…

According to Spielman, a 56 percent increase in the monthly phone tax would generate an additional $50.4 million for the City’s coffers.

John Byrne, Monique Garcia, and Ray Long added on the Chicago Tribune website Thursday:

Emanuel’s late push for a measure that would allow the City Council to raise 911 fees by as much as $1.40, which could bring the monthly charge on landline and cell phone bills to $3.90 a month, cleared its first hurdle in the Senate.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, said the increase was needed because the current $2.50 fee isn’t raising enough money to pay for operating the city’s emergency response center, forcing the Emanuel administration to dip into other pots of money to keep it running. How much more the fee hike would bring in depends on whether aldermen vote to increase the fee and to what level.

The city collected about $90 million last year through the current $2.50-per-month phone fee, Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said. This year’s budget for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications is $123 million. Quinn did not directly answer whether the mayor wants to raise the 911 fee to an amount that will bring in more revenue than the city needs to cover the OEMC budget or how the city would use any extra revenue

Let’s see. Assuming the City of Chicago collects the same amount ($90 million) as last year from their monthly phone tax, adding the projected $50.4 million from a 56 percent hike totals just over $140 million. That’s enough to pay for OEMC operations plus tax- although something tells me that’s probably not where all the money would be steered to.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Emanuel seeks 56 percent hike in telephone tax.” Chicago Sun-Times. 29 May 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/emanuel-seeks-56-percent-hike-telephone-tax/thu-05292014-434pm). 30 May 2014.

Byrne, John, Garcia, Monique and Long, Ray. “Emanuel makes late push to raise 911 fees paid by those own landlines, cell phones.” Chicago Tribune. 29 May 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-emanuel-makes-late-push-to-raise-911-fees-paid-by-those-own-landlines-cell-phones-20140529,0,6958184.story). 30 May 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cook County Homeowners Could See Property Tax Hike To Pay For Pension ‘Reform’

Last week, I blogged about the possibility of property and/or sales taxes going up soon in Cook County, Illinois. Dave McKinney and Brian Slodysko reported on the Chicago Sun-Times website on May 13 the hikes might occur as part of a pension “reform” bill.

Hal Dardick and Monique Garcia added on the Chicago Tribune website tonight:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle hit Springfield Thursday to try to build support for changes to the county pension plan that she says would halt its ongoing decline toward insolvency.

She met with Senate President John Cullerton House Speaker Michael Madigan, both Chicago Democrats, and also Republican legislative leaders. “I think she’s got a good chance to pass this bill,” Madigan said afterward…

Although Preckwinkle has not identified how she would pay for her plan, it calls for the county to put $144 million a year into the pension fund. If funded with property taxes, that would cost the average homeowner up to $65 more a year, starting in 2017, according to one internal county document the Tribune obtained.

Preckwinkle, however, said Wednesday that she has closed even larger budget gaps through cuts and other, smaller scale tax and fee increases without raising property taxes — while also lowering the county sales tax by a half-cent on the dollar…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Yet, McKinney and Slodysko wrote last week:

County officials do not believe they can cut enough from the budget to cover the cost, the source said…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Stay tuned. It’s only a matter of time before Chicago and Cook County politicians get around to raising property taxes on a regular basis, if you ask me.

What’s that line I keep repeating on this blog?

Higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

As much as I hate saying it, that’s what Chicago and Cook County residents should be preparing themselves for down the road.

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal and Garcia, Monique. “Preckwinkle hits Springfield on pension plan.” Chicago Tribune. 22 May 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/clout/chi-preckwinkle-hits-springfield-on-pension-plan-20140522,0,4698464.story). 22 May 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes No Comments

Chicago Wakes To Proposed Property Tax Hike On April Fool’s Day

Many Chicagoans probably wish what’s being widely-reported in the local news this morning about a proposed property tax hike is just a silly April Fool’s joke.

It’s not.

Fran Spielman wrote on the Chicago Sun-Times website last night:

Chicago property owners will face $250 million in property tax increases over five years while city employees make increased pension contributions that will cost them at least $300 more a year, under landmark reforms unveiled Monday…

The new revenue the mayor had promised only after pension reform will come in the form of $50 million property tax increases for five straight years, beginning next year and continuing through 2019.

Top mayoral aides estimate that would cost the owner of a home valued at $250,000 with an annual property tax bill of $4,000 roughly $58 more or $290 over the five-year period. That’s on top of expected increases for the Chicago Board of Education and Chicago Park District…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

A couple of thoughts here:

First off, is anyone really surprised this is happening?

Regular readers of this blog shouldn’t be.

Higher fees, fines, and taxes. Less government services.

I’ve been squawking this for quite some time now.


“Black Dynamite- Who saw that coming?”
YouTube Video

Second, a $250,000 home? When discussing a Chicago Board of Education property tax hike last August, I blogged:

$230,000? You’d be hard-pressed to find a home for that little money in my former stomping grounds on the Northwest Side.

The same holds true for a $250,000 one (especially if it’s a property big enough for a family and doesn’t require a ton of work).

Which means many of my old neighbors will be coughing up significantly more than just $58 annually/$290 over five years as a result of this proposed hike.

And they already pay a big chunk of change to the City’s coffers.

Third, Spielman added last night:

The bottom line, according to Emanuel, is a plan that spreads the burden between employees, retirees and homeowners without raising property taxes so high that it triggers a mass exodus to the suburbs…

“Mass” being the key word here, because an exodus has already started. Former Chicago residents who have awakened to the “writing on the wall” are moving to the suburbs (yours truly included), leaving Cook County, and departing the state.

The push to make “temporary” personal and corporate income tax hikes permanent and the pursuit of class warfare in the form of a proposed millionaire tax hike by the ruling political party in the city, county, and state certainly don’t help the situation either.

Fourth, I can’t stand when tax hikes are proposed despite the lack of significant belt-tightening. Think the City of Chicago is as lean-and-mean as it possibly can be with its operations and set-up?

As long as 50 aldermanic wards exist, I’d argue no.

Fifth, as it stands right now, there’s still a state-required $600 million contribution due next year from the City to stabilize police and fire pension funds that this proposed property tax hike doesn’t address and has to be dealt with. Hal Dardick an Bill Ruthhart reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

But the proposal the mayor and his top aides outlined late Monday would not address huge pension shortfalls for Chicago police, firefighters and teachers. Nor would it deal with the city’s most immediate, pressing financial problem: a state requirement to pay a whopping $600 million more toward police and fire pensions next year, a provision that could lead to a combination of tax increases, service cuts and borrowing

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

You read right. Possibly more “tax increases, service cuts and borrowing” coming down the line shortly for Chicago residents.

Stay tuned…

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “Pension deal pinches city workers and taxpayers.” Chicago Sun-Times. 31 Mar. 2014. (http://politics.suntimes.com/article/chicago/exclusive-pension-deal-pinches-city-workers-and-taxpayers/mon-03312014-821pm). 1 Apr. 2014.

Dardick, Hal and Ruthhart, Bill. “Emanuel’s pension fix: Shrink benefits, raise taxes.” Chicago Tribune. 1 Apr. 2014. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-rahm-emanuel-pension-property-tax-increase-met–20140401,0,1662095,full.story). 1 Apr. 2014.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

BIS: Global Debt Markets Grow To Estimated $100 Trillion In 2013, Up From $70 Trillion In 2007

Last night, I read about global debt markets hitting the $100 trillion-mark.

One word came to my mind at that moment:

Unsustainable.

Branimir Gruić and Andreas Schrimpf wrote “Cross-border investments in global debt markets since the crisis” in the latest BIS Quarterly Review- a report from the Bank of International Settlements (the central bank of central banks). From the publication released Sunday:

Global debt markets have grown to an estimated $100 trillion (in amounts outstanding) in mid-2013 (Graph C, left-hand panel), up from $70 trillion in mid-2007. Growth has been uneven across the main market segments. Active issuance by governments and non-financial corporations has lifted the share of domestically issued bonds, whereas more restrained activity by financial institutions has held back international issuance (Graph C, left-hand panel).

Not surprisingly, given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers (Graph C, left-hand panel). They mostly issue debt in domestic markets, where amounts outstanding reached $43 trillion in June 2013, about 80% higher than in mid-2007 (as indicated by the yellow area in Graph C, left-hand panel)…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

“Not surprisingly, given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers”

Gruić and Schrimpf are correct- I’m not surprised.

And regular Survival And Prosperity readers shouldn’t be either, as warnings about reduced government services and new/higher taxes and fees (to deal with all this new debt) have been issued time and time again.

You can read the entire BIS report here (page 22 of the .pdf file/page 18 of the publication contains Gruić and Schrimpf’s findings).

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Residents Hit With Fee, Fine, And Tax Hikes In 2014

Chicagoans- get ready for a bunch of new fee, fine, and tax hikes starting January 1.

Fees for certain parking and speeding infractions, impounded vehicle storage, and construction permit filings are going up.

“Amusement” taxes on cable television will jump 50 percent.

Beginning January 10, yet another cigarette tax hike of 50 cents per pack takes effect. Adding federal, state, and county taxes will leave Chicago with the highest taxes ($7.17) on cigarettes in the country.

None of this applicable to you? There’s more. I read an article by Hal Dardick in my Sunday paper (Chicago Tribune) this morning which warned:

The widest-felt effects will stem from the property tax increase enacted in August by the Chicago Board of Education and higher water and sewer fees set in motion during Emanuel’s first year in office as a way to pay for the replacement of aging mains.

The owner of a home valued at $213,000 can expect to pay about $51 more in school property taxes next year. It’s the third year in a row that Chicago property owners will get hit with higher school taxes.

City property owners and suburban governments that buy city water face a 15 percent increase in water rates. In some cases, suburban utilities will pass the increases on to people who buy their water. Sewer charges, added to city property owners’ bimonthly bills, will be 96 percent of their water tab, an increase of 4 percentage points…

“The owner of a home valued at $213,000.”

Not many decent houses down around that price level in my old neighborhood on the Northwest Side. Even in adjacent neighborhoods.

$51 would be just the starting point in that part of Chicago.

Dardick added later:

All of the new city fines and fees are expected to pump about $32.4 million into city coffers next year…

“$32.4 million.” Yeah, we’ll see.

Why such a “Doubting Thomas”? If anything, smokers who aren’t already doing it might be even more motivated in the new year to purchase their cigarettes outside of the Chicago city limits, depriving the City of Chicago of much needed and anticipated revenue.

Then there’s the possibility that a significant number of Chicagoans might become extra-wary going forward about being slapped with the well-publicized and more expensive parking and moving violations. More anticipated money gone.

And down the road, there’s already talk among certain suburbs of bypassing Lake Michigan water collected and distributed by the City of Chicago.

Regardless, Chicago residents- should they choose to remain in the “Windy City”- should keep on expecting higher fees, fines, and taxes in the years to come.

Then again, the same might be said for a lot of places across the United States.

But to the degree that I expect Chicagoans to get hit with? Not really.

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

Source:

Dardick, Hal. “Higher Chicago taxes, fines and fees for 2014.” Chicago Tribune. 20 Dec. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-chicago-new-taxes-fees-met-20131222,0,6847986.story). 22 Dec. 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Mancow’ Moves Family Out Of ‘Unlivable’ Chicago

In the late 90s-early 2000s, I used to drive 30 miles each way to and from work during the business week (thankfully, gas was relatively cheap at that time). Therefore, I had plenty of time to kill during the commute. Back then, I used to tune into Mancow’s Morning Madhouse, a radio show hosted by Chicago-based “shock jock” Erich “Mancow” Muller once in a while. Mancow is going strong in 2013 with a presence on both the radio and television, and still manages to make headlines. Bob Goldsborough reported on the Chicago Tribune website this morning:

Calling his decision to leave the city “heartbreaking,” radio host and reality TV star Erich “Mancow” Muller has sold his Lincoln Park condominium and decamped to a house in Wilmette.

Muller, who is a married father of twin school-aged daughters, told Elite Street he’d had enough with city living.

“The schools are awful. I guess I could have had (my daughters) go to public schools, but I don’t want them to be stupid. I drove past Lincoln Park High School every day, and the kids are cursing and yelling and have their hands down each other’s pants,” he said. “And then, I was spending $45,000 a year for the (private) British School of Chicago. It was killing me.”

Mancow also said there were always homeless people outside his door and street parking he often used was raised from a quarter an hour to $13 an hour.

“I think they’ve done a good job of making the city unlivable for families. I’m so sick of feeding the broken government in Chicago,” he said.

“The schools are awful.” “I’m so sick of feeding the broken government in Chicago.”

Leave it to a shock jock to “candy-coat” his displeasure with the Chicago Public Schools and the Democratically-controlled City of Chicago.

Maybe I should start listening to Mancow on the radio again?

In all seriousness, it sucks that the Muller family feels things have gotten to the point in Chicago where they need to leave.

I wonder how many other Chicagoans feel the same way?

While some may think Mancow’s gripes are just “signs of the time” or consequences of “city living,” regular readers know my girlfriend and I just split Chicago recently after concluding we weren’t comfortable either with the direction the Midwest metropolis seems to be heading. Our “beef” has more to do with financial mismanagement and public safety- or lack thereof- however.

Unfortunately, barring a major financial crisis, “The Machine” and “business as usual” looks to be firmly established in Chicago for now.

From where I stand, however, it certainly looks like storms clouds are gathering on the horizon.

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

Source:

Goldsborough, Bob. “Calling city ‘unlivable,’ Mancow sells Lincoln Park condo.” Chicago Tribune. 18 Nov. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/breaking/chi-mancow-leaves-city-elite-street,0,3188814.story). 18 Nov. 2013.g/chi-mancow-leaves-city-elite-street,0,3188814.story). 18 Nov. 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Farewell, Illinois Businesses And Jobs

One topic I particularly “harp on” in Survival And Prosperity is the continued erosion of business-friendly conditions in the state of Illinois.

Whether it be a misguided anti-Constitution, anti-Bill of Rights crusade that drives off gun manufacturers and their workers or a 46 percent corporate income tax hike that was implemented at the beginning of 2011, parochial-minded politicians in control of the state are scaring away prospective and existing businesses and jobs.

Thankfully, it’s not just me that recognizes the nonsense that’s going on. From my Sunday paper this morning:

Scott Stantis
Chicago Tribune
Oct 19, 2013
ANY CHARACTER HERE

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Back To Blogging

It’s back to work over here at Survival And Prosperity this dreary Wednesday morning in the Chicagoland area. I had planned on publishing new material Monday, but decided to extend my “vacation” out a little bit longer. I apologize if you were checking for new posts earlier this week.

During my time away from the blog, I was able to attend to a number of tasks that needed my immediate attention. But it wasn’t “all work and no play.” I got the chance to spend a couple of days at my family’s place in southeast Wisconsin near the end of the break. The weather was terrific, the locally-brewed beer plentiful, and the Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass were biting. My cousin and I managed to haul in some really nice-sized fish. Which is why I extended my stay longer than originally planned.

Two things come to mind now when thinking about that long weekend in Wisconsin:

First, I noticed the gun section at the local hardware store had a lot more ammunition on the shelves from the last time I was there. Another sign the ammo shortage is easing up?

Second, it was nice to “Escape to Wisconsin” and breathe in some “freedom.” In my opinion, Wisconsin is heading in the right direction. Illinois… not so much. As each day goes by, the “Land of Lincoln” continues to be transformed into a Big Government Nanny State, highlighted by more/higher taxes, more/higher fees, and increasing controls forced upon the populace. Sadly enough, many of my neighbors seem to be okay with this. Especially here in the Chicago area.

Coupled with the huge financial woes facing the City of Chicago, Cook County, and State of Illinois- an ugly ending looks to be in store for us. At the very least, Illinoisans will be busting their wallets out en masse to deal with the debt debacle.

And while our nice new house in the Chicago suburbs that I worked on quite a bit the last two weeks is fine and all, I continue to warn my girlfriend that our future permanent residence looks to be outside of the state.

It’s a real shame it might have to come to that.

Back to our regularly-scheduled blogging. And wondering if incompetency trumps political theater in causing a national debt default in the coming hours.

Christopher E. Hill
Editor

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicagoans: Should They Stay Or Should They Go?

These days, there are times living out here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago that I feel like Henry Hill (played by actor Ray Liotta) at the end of the 1990 film Goodfellas.

No, not that part about Henry living the rest of his life as a “schnook.”

Rather, where previously I could step out my door adjacent to a major city artery and things were generally hopping, this suburban subdivision I now live in can be pretty dull at times (which isn’t entirely a bad thing).

Thank god the Italian food around here isn’t nearly as bad as what the other Hill encountered.

Grazie a Dio.

However, I was just reminded this morning of one of the big reasons why my girlfriend and I moved out of the city of Chicago while reading the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop. “016 Up For Grabs” discussed 5 people getting shot in less than 2 days in the Chicago Police Department’s 16th District, something that kind of hit home considering I used to live in that same district.

Now, it’s not like crime never happened in 016 before. It’s the big city, and the 80 percent of good, law-abiding people are packed shoulder-to-shoulder with the 10 percent of human refuse and remaining 10 percent who play by the rules because they’re forced to. I can recall walking into a convenience store down the street from me just minutes after it had been robbed, having a “welcome to the new home” plant stolen from my building’s entryway shortly after it had been delivered, and finding a big metal Coleman cooler stolen from my underground parking garage space- all within weeks after moving in to my old Northwest Side neighborhood, one of the “nicer” ones in the city.

Funny thing about that cooler. It used to store bottles of antifreeze, windshield washer fluid, engine oil, and more- none of which was taken even though it was inside the cooler. But plenty of which splashed around and/or leaked in that container.

Something tells me those bastards got pretty ill later drinking from those beer bottles/cans because they were too lazy to clean out that cooler before using it.

Karma’s a bitch. Or here’s hoping, right?

Still, armed with “intel” from Second City Cop and other alternative media with a local focus (Chicago mainstream media was hit-or-miss on reporting criminal activity in my neighborhood), Chicago-related research/blog material, and my own local observations, I realized that the 16th District had not only become “grittier” as it concerned crime, but it was occurring at a time when police protection in my area was significantly-reduced from when I first moved in.

Coupled with the City of Chicago’s financial woes that are finally coming home to roost? Chicagoans don’t need to be brain surgeons to figure this one out. Like I’ve been saying for some time now, more fees/fines/taxes and less government services seem to be on the horizon.

I suspect less police protection will be part of that equation, unless Chicago taxpayers pony up more of their hard-earned cash to at least keep the “thin blue line” intact.

And boy is it thin these days.

But I suspect increased revenues will be directed at Chicago’s public employee pension crisis and City Hall’s pet projects (where’s my park, dang it) before it’s steered over to the CPD and public safety.

In other words, Chicagoans had better be prepared to keep hearing “crime is down” for a long time.

In the meantime, City Hall still can’t comprehend that losing Downtown to all the wilding will see the City’s bottom line hit hard as word gets out.

Judging by recent MSM coverage nationwide about such criminal activity here, the word’s already out.

I wonder how hard it is to fudge tourism numbers?

While I would have preferred to have stayed in Chicago, and in particular, our old or the adjacent neighborhood in the CPD’s 16th District, considering what I see is in store for the area and our particular circumstances, my girlfriend and I made the right decision to move when and where we did.

Then again, that might not be the “correct” decision for other Chicagoans. Consider this. We didn’t have much invested in our old location. We didn’t own it (could have, but we steered clear of buying anything until home prices came back down to earth somewhat), we weren’t required to live within the city limits as required by a municipal job, we don’t have kids in the local schools, family and friends didn’t live down the street, the list goes on. So it wasn’t all too painful for us to just pick up and leave when our latest lease ran out.

The same can’t be said for others, and I respect that.

At least I, for one, have given you enough notice of what to expect down the road.

Prepare accordingly.

Is the “Second City” going to get worse? Could get “Third World” when all is said and done, and the ongoing financial storm finally blows completely through.

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

Source:

SCC. “016 Up For Grabs.” Second City Cop. 13 Aug. 2013. (http://secondcitycop.blogspot.com/2013/08/016-up-for-grabs.html). 13 Aug. 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

City Of Chicago 2012 Audit Shows Debt Continues To Grow

I’ve been wondering when information regarding the latest City of Chicago audit would be released.

And wouldn’t you know it, it happened on a Friday evening.

That bad, huh?

Not really. Just continuing a worsening trend when it comes to the City’s long-term debt.

Thankfully, Chicago Sun-Times City Hall Reporter Fran Spielman picked up on the audit’s release and broke it down for readers when, as far as I can tell, no other Chicago mainstream media outlet is discussing it. Spielman wrote Friday night:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the books on 2012 with $33.4 million in unallocated cash on hand — down from $167 million the year before — while adding to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, year-end audits show.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Spielman was all over the 2011 audit release too, and reported back on July 22, 2012:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed the books on 2011 with $310 million in cash on hand, $167 million more than the year before.

$310 million cash cushion in 2011 (or is $167 million?- will try to clarify with Ms. Spielman) down to $33.4 million in 2012. Not the best news.

(Editor’s note: Ms. Spielman confirmed with me that the cash cushion in 2011 turned out to be that $167 million figure. So, $167 million all the way down to $33.4 million= still not good).

Regarding the “mountain of debt,” the Sun-Times reporter wrote last year that the City amassed an additional $465 million in debt according to the 2011 audit, bringing the City of Chicago’s total long-term debt to just over $27 billion, or $10,000 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.7 million residents.

In Friday night’s piece, Spielman pointed out:

The new round of borrowing brings Chicago’s total long-term debt to nearly $29 billion. That’s $10,780 for every one of the city’s nearly 2.69 million residents. More than a decade ago, the debt load was $9.6 billion or $3,338 per resident.

Around $2 billion more in additional long-term debt- or $780 more per Chicagoan- in just one year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Hall have found themselves in a difficult situation once more, one that I’ve been warning about for some time now. Spielman added:

By July 31, Emanuel must release a preliminary city budget. It’s almost certain to include another massive deficit — strengthening the city’s case in contract talks with city unions — that will have to be closed with more layoffs, service cuts and new revenues.

What’s that I’ve been saying? Expect new/higher taxes and fees, and less government services, as the financial crisis marches on.

Hat tip to Second City Cop for picking up on the Sun-Times article, and a nice job by Fran Spielman for staying on top of these revealing audits.

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

Sources:

Spielman, Fran. “2011 audit shows Chicago has more cash and growing debt load.” Chicago Sun-Times. 22 July 2012. (http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/13895641-418/2011-audit-shows-chicago-has-more-cash-and-growing-debt-load.html). 29 July 2013.

Spielman, Fran. “City of Chicago’s cash cushion plummets, debt triples, arrests drop, water use rises.” Chicago Sun-Times. 26 July 2013. (http://www.suntimes.com/21552920-761/city-by-the-numbers-cash-cushion-plummets-debt-triples-arrests-drop-water-use-rises.html). 29 July 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chicago Public Schools Plan To Hike Property Taxes To Maximum Allowed To Help Close $1 Billion Deficit

Ever since my old blog Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street,” debuted on Memorial Day Weekend 2007, I’ve been predicting Americans should get used to seeing new and higher taxes and fees and less government services while the nation’s financial woes play out. Especially in dysfunctional Chicago. So it’s no surprise to me I spotted the following on the local news last night. From the website of Chicago CBS affiliate Channel 2 News this morning:

Homeowners, prepare to dig deeper. Schoolchildren — especially high schoolers — prepare to get less.

That was the basic thrust of the spending plan Chicago Public Schools officials laid out Wednesday for the coming school year.
CPS plans to slash total classroom spending by $68 million. It’s small piece of their plan to close a $1 billion deficit, mostly from skyrocketing pension obligations.

To fill the rest of that giant hole this year, the district plans to raise property taxes to the maximum allowed, cut central spending by $112 million and tap into another $700 million in one-time reserves, including county and state money that came in early, said CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley…

For taxpayers, the property tax increases, totaling an additional $42 million for CPS, will cost the owner of a $200,000 home an extra $32 a year, according to the Cook County Clerk’s office.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

And extra $32 a year may not sound like a lot, but when added to the higher/new taxes and fees Chicagoans continue to get hit with, it adds up.

Plus, where I used to live in the city- a pretty decent neighborhood- a lot of homes were valued at much more than $200,000. Keep in mind this extra $32 is just the starting point for many Chicago homeowners.

Case in point. Tonya Francisco over at WGN Channel 9 News reported this morning that for a $230,000 home, the tax hike would be an additional $51 annually.

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

Sources:

“CPS To Cut Classroom Spending By $68M, Hike Property Taxes.” Channel 2 News. 25 July 2013. (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/07/25/cps-to-cut-classroom-spending-by-68m-hike-property-taxes/). 25 July 2013.

Francisco, Tonya. “CPS proposes property tax hike to fix budget problem.” Channel 9 News. 25 July 2013. (http://wgntv.com/2013/07/25/cps-proposes-property-tax-hike-to-fix-budget-problems/). 25 July 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 25th, 2013 Deficits, Education, Taxes No Comments

Cook County, Illinois, Projects $152.1 Million Budget Deficit In FY 2014

Cook County, Illinois, is looking at another huge budget deficit for the coming fiscal year. Communications Staff over at the County’s official blog wrote on June 27:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today released the preliminary budget for Fiscal Year 2014 which projected a $152.1 million deficit.

They added:

The County is also projecting a year end shortfall of $18 million in 2013.

The fiscal year comes to an end on November 30 in the second-most populous county in the United States (after Los Angeles County, California).

It remains to be seen how Cook County plans to make up the projected budget shortfall in FY 2014, but President Preckwinkle thinks property and sales taxes can be ruled out. The Cook County Blog quoted her as saying:

I am confident we will be able to make the tough decisions necessary to balance the budget without raising property or sales taxes.

Bill Ruthhart reported on the Chicago Tribune website on June 27:

The Democrat from Hyde Park declined to discuss what specific tax and fee increases are under consideration this time.

“We’re trying to put everything on the table,” she said. “We have to close a $152 million gap in an environment where we’ve already picked all the low-hanging fruit, so we’re going to have tough choices ahead of us.”

Last year, Preckwinkle’s budget included a $1-per-pack cigarette tax increase, a $25 tax on new gun sales, a 1.25 percent use tax on out-of-county purchases of more than $3,500, a $1,000-a-year tax on slot machines and a $200-a-year tax on video gambling terminals. All told, those were expected to raise about $41.7 million in a $2.95 billion budget.

“We’ve already picked all the low-hanging fruit.”

Cook County residents and businesses should prepare themselves for new/higher fees and taxes going forward.

You can view the preliminary budget on the County’s blog here.

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

Source:

Ruthhart, Bill. “Cook County budget gap $152 million for next year.” Chicago Tribune. 27 June 2013. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-27/news/chi-cook-county-budget-gap-152-million-for-next-year-20130627_1_cook-county-budget-gap-sales-tax-increase-county-jail). 1 July 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

State Of Illinois Bankrupt By 2015?

While it’s “business as usual” for Illinois politicians, two influential groups grow increasingly-wary of the state’s financial situation. Paul Merrion reported on the Crain’s Chicago Business website back on April 22:

Most wealthy Chicago-area investors are optimistic about the global and national economic outlook, but many fear a downturn in the Illinois economy this year, a new survey finds.

The state’s financial well-being has 76 percent of local investors “very concerned,” while only 46 percent feel that way about the prospects for the U.S. economy, according to a survey by Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. A bit more than half (52 percent) said the state’s pension crisis was their top concern, and 58 percent foresee that the Illinois economy will get worse by year-end.

Speaking of the state’s public pension crisis, a pro-Illinois taxpayer group is warning it has the potential to bankrupt the State of Illinois. John Cody reported on the CBS Chicago website Tuesday:

A conservative watchdog group is warning of dark days ahead for the entire state unless Illinois mends it’s financial ways, and soon.

Taxpayers United President Jim Tobin, is essentially blaming Democrats with a two house super-majority for failing to act on pension reform reform.

“Illinois will be the first state to go bankrupt, unless pension reforms are implemented,” said Tobin.

And Tobin’s numbers suggest it’ll be sooner rather than later.

“Yeah, 2015 is about right,” said Tobin.

And yet, state lawmakers continue to fiddle (waste time on more trivial issues) while Illinois burns.

My prediction? Illinois residents should prepare themselves for a combination of more fees, taxes, and belt-tightening from and by the State. Most likely, sooner rather than later.

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

Sources:

Merrion, Paul. “Rich Chicagoans fret about Illinois economy: survey.” Crain’s Chicago Business. 22 Apr. 2013. (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130422/NEWS02/130419726/rich-chicagoans-fret-about-illinois-economy-survey). 3 May 2013.

Cody, John. “Conservative Watch Dog: Pensions Could Bankrupt Illinois By 2015.” CBS Chicago. 30 Apr. 2013. (http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/04/30/conservative-watch-dog-pensions-could-bankrupt-illinois-by-2015/). 3 May 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Illinois Criminals Count Blessings As Prisons And Other Correctional Facilities Close

Illinois residents- is it just me, or does it seem like there’s no shortage of stories out there of convicted criminals in the state who roam the streets and never see prison time, or if they do, aren’t behind bars for that long?

It a topic I’ve blogged about as recently as a week ago.

And I suspect the ongoing closure of prisons and other related facilities in Illinois as it battles a huge fiscal mess will only make matters worse. Monique Garcia and Rafael Guerrero reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday stood by his decision to close two prisons and several halfway homes, even as overcrowding at remaining facilities has forced the Illinois Department of Corrections to convert gym space into housing for inmates.

Other facilities that have been closed or are in the process of being shut down include Tamms Correction Center (a “supermax” prison; closed), Illinois Youth Center at Murphysboro (a juvenile justice center; closed), Illinois Youth Center at Joliet (closing), Dwight Correctional Center (maximum security prison for women; closing), and three inmate transitional centers (closing).

Garcia and Guerrero added:

The Democratic governor said he hoped overcrowding would be eased by a revamped good-behavior credit program the administration plans to implement in the coming months.

Illinois residents might remember that didn’t turn out too well the last time around.

At a time when the State of Illinois looks like it could use more prisons and other correctional facilities, they’re being shuttered.

Surveying the economic landscape, I don’t expect much in the way of a resurgence for Illinois anytime soon (ongoing fee/tax hikes will help take care of that). As such, budgets for law enforcement agencies and the penal system will probably continue to be tightened, and criminals will grow bolder knowing the “thin blue line” is slimmer and doing time may be just a temporary visit to the slammer.

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

Source:

Garcia, Monique and Guerrero, Rafael. “Quinn stands by decision to close 2 prisons, despite inmate crowding.” Chicago Tribune. 18 Feb. 2013. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-quinn-prison-closures-0219-20130219,0,2758226.story). 19 Feb. 2013.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,



Christopher E. Hill, Editor
12,096 Visits in July
466,424 Visits from
11/22/10-7/31/14
Please Rate this Blog HERE

Translate (Allow 1 Minute Per Page To Complete)


by Transposh - translation plugin for wordpress
NEW! Advertising Disclosure HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
New Affiliate Partner! BulletSafe
ANY CHARACTER HERE
New Affiliate Partner! BUDK
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Free 5.11 Tactical hat, T-Shirt or Gym bag w/ purchase New Affiliate Partner! CHIEF Supply
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Buy Gold and Silver JM Bullion Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
MyPatriotSupply.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Nitro-Pak--The Emergency Preparedness Leader Nitro-Pak Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Save 7.5% today! Click the banner to learn how.Brownells Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BullionVault BullionVault.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Pyramyd Air is your one-stop shop for everything airgun related.PyramidAir.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Airsoft Megastore Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
RealtyTrac RealtyTrac Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
 

Categories

Archives