local government

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)

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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

Chicago Public Schools Budget: Property Taxes Hiked To The Max

“Property tax hikes.” Something Chicagoans better get used to hearing in the coming years. Hal Dardick, Heather Gillers, and Juan Perez, Jr., reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Chicago Public Schools unveiled a budget Monday meant to pressure Gov. Bruce Rauner and state lawmakers into providing nearly a half-billion dollars in pension relief, a gambit school officials warn will bring painful cuts if help doesn’t arrive by Jan. 1.

In addition to help from the state, the $5.7 billion operating budget relies on extensive borrowing, an influx of tens of millions in dollars in surpluses from special city taxing districts and an increase of the district’s property tax

To help patch over a budget gap the district said exceeds $1.1 billion, CPS will raise its property taxes to the maximum amount allowable — resulting in a $19 tax bill bump for the owner of a $250,000 home, the district said — while pushing $200 million in debt into the future…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

$19 here, a few bucks there, and pretty soon all these “bumps” start to add up, leading to mass frustration among Chicago taxpayers. And’s this particular increase isn’t a one-off either. From the Tribune piece:

And if Springfield does comes through — which is far from a sure thing — [Chicago schools chief Forrest] Claypool said the district would still need concessions from unions and larger tax hikes in years to come to keep up with the cost of ballooning pension payments…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Like I said, “mass frustration.”

At what point does it all boil over?

Chicago taxpayers should probably read this article in its entirety to get a clearer picture of what looks to be in store for their pocketbooks in the near future and farther down the road. You can find the piece on the Tribune website here.

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

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

Chicago Police ‘Stop-And-Frisks’ To Plummet After ACLU Agreement?

“Pro active policing is now dead in Chicago. Put on the blinders boys and girls and just handle your calls. No more stops on the street or hand wavers. Give Chicago the police department they deserve.”

-Comment on the popular Chicago police blog Second City Cop, August 8, 2015

ABC7 News (Chicago) reported on its website Friday night that the Chicago Police Department has reached “an agreement with the ACLU over so-called ‘stop-and-frisks.’” From the piece:

In March, a report from the ACLU of Illinois found Chicago police officers disproportionately targeted blacks and other racial minorities in hundreds of thousands of stop, question and frisk encounters. The ACLU accused the Chicago Police Department’s policy of feeding racial profiling and threatened a lawsuit.

The agreement avoids litigation and will lead to a change in CPD procedures, including more record-keeping, police officer training, and public disclosure on traffic stops…

The city and department have agreed to collect additional data about investigatory stops. That includes officers’ names and badge numbers, the race, ethnicity and gender of the person stopped, the reason for the stop, the location, date and time of the stop and other details.

That information will be given to the ACLU and Former U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys, who will oversee the agreement’s implementation and release a public report twice a year. Judge Keys will be able to look at where the stops are occurring and who is making them, down to the individual officer

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Will Chicago be heading down the same path as New York City as a result of this new “stop-and-frisk” agreement with the ACLU? Consider the following from the CBS2 News (New York City) website back on March 4:

New guidelines for the stop, question and frisk policing method were released to NYPD officers this week, and the patrol union said the guidelines will make the officers’ jobs more difficult.

The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association is not happy.

“It’s confusing police officers where it’s coming to a point where we’re going to have to travel with legal counsel to articulate what we’re supposed to do,” said PBA President Patrick Lynch.

The new policy said in order to conduct a stop, an officer “must have individualized, reasonable suspicion that the person stopped has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a felony or penal law misdemeanor.”

A “mere suspicion or a hunch” is not enough for a stop, the memo said.

A conclusion that someone is acting suspiciously based on “furtive movements,” or a person’s mere presence in a “high-crime area,” is not enough to warrant a stop by an officer under the new guidelines. Stops and frisks were permitted for such reasons alone in the past, according to published reports.

The guidelines also forbid stops by an officer based on a generalized description of a suspect – such as one that includes only a race and an age range.

“A person may not be stopped merely because he or she matches a generalized description of a crime suspect, such as an 18- to 25-year-old black male; if physical description is the only factor relied on by the officer, it must be more specific than that to form a sufficient basis for a stop,” the guidelines said.

The guidelines further said that a frisk is not always automatically acceptable whenever an officer stops someone.

“The officer must have an independent basis to reasonably suspect that a person who has been stopped is armed and dangerous in order to frisk that person,” the guidelines said.

Officers will also have to write a narrative explaining what justified the stop, question and frisk…

On June 5, Kerry Burke, Larry McShane, and Rocco Parascandola reported on the Daily News (New York) website:

A dramatic drop in stop-and-frisk encounters has emboldened criminals and made cops more reluctant to take proactive police action, even as murders and shootings are on the rise in the city.

The frightening message — echoed by police supervisors and union leaders — comes as stop-and-frisk encounters are on pace to plunge by 42% this year, with 20,000 fewer street stops.

There were 11,652 stops across the city through June 3 — projecting to roughly 28,000 for the year, records obtained by the Daily News show. As the number of stops fell, the number of murders spiked 19.5% during the first five months of the year, the number of people shot is up 9.2% and the number of shooting incidents jumped 9%.

“What you’re seeing now are the perps carrying their guns because they’re not afraid to carry them,” said Ed Mullins, head of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. “We’ve created an atmosphere where we’ve handcuffed the police. We are sitting back, taking a less proactive approach.”

Mullins said the city’s criminal element has been operating without fear while cops have been somewhat neutered in the last two years — and he wasn’t the only one to raise the issue…

City cops, citing increased scrutiny from the NYPD’s inspector general, the state attorney general and City Hall, say the cutback on stops is about self-preservation.

“Everyone is afraid to make stops,” said one Brooklyn police supervisor. “No one wants to get jammed up. They’re telling us the stops have to be quality stops. But if you make a stop, and you think it’s a good one, and the guy has nothing on him, is that a good stop?”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Time will tell if the “Windy City” goes the way of the “Big Apple” concerning “stop-and-frisks.”

If it does, Chicago blog readers shouldn’t be surprised if there’s also a corresponding jump in crime.

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

Sources:

“CPD agrees to ‘stop-and-frisk’ reforms, avoids ACLU lawsuit.” ABC7 News. 7 Aug. 2015. (http://abc7chicago.com/news/cpd-agrees-to-stop-and-frisk-reforms-avoids-aclu-lawsuit/909740/). 8 Aug. 2015.

“PBA: New Stop-And-Frisk Guidelines Will Confuse Officers, Make Jobs Harder.” CBS2 News. 4 Mar. 2015. (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2015/03/04/pba-new-stop-and-frisk-guidelines-will-confuse-officers-make-jobs-harder/). 8 Aug. 2015.

Burke, Kerry, McShane, Larry, and Rocco Parascandola. “EXCLUSIVE: Huge drop in stop-and-frisk as NYC crime increases raises fear that cops are reluctant to confront criminals.” Daily News. 5 June 2015. (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/exclusive-big-fall-stop-and-frisk-criminals-bolder-article-1.2247406). 8 Aug. 2015.

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

Sunday, August 9th, 2015 Crime, Government, Public Safety, Self-Defense No Comments

Latest On Proposed Niles, Illinois, Gun Shop, Range

Regular Chicagoland readers of this blog know I’ve been following the proposed gun range/shop in northwest suburban Niles, Illinois, pretty much since the beginning. From what I gather, the facility is still bogged down in the legal system (go figure). Lee V. Gaines reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

An amended lawsuit against the village of Niles and the company that plans to open up a gun shop and range in the village was filed Monday, July 27, by a Skokie-based gun control advocacy group that aims to prevent the facility from locating within five miles of several schools.

The initial lawsuit, filed last October by the advocacy group People for a Safer Society, sought to annul a special-use permit approved last July by the Niles Village Board that would allow for the sale of firearms, an indoor firing range and gun safety training at a yet to be built facility at 6143 Howard St., in addition to preventing any such facility from opening up shop on that parcel of land in the future.

The group’s lawsuit, as previously reported by Pioneer Press, was dismissed without prejudice in June by Circuit Court of Cook County Judge Franklin Ulyses Valderrama.

To address the concerns outlined by Valderrama in his June ruling on the matter, Tony Hind, an attorney for the group, said the amended suit names the 6143 Howard Partners, the company that plans to open the gun shop and range dubbed Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training, as a defendant alongside the village of Niles.

Hind said the new suit also lays out specific alleged damages that would result from the existence of such a facility in addition to outlining the harm the gun shop and range would pose to the general public…

As I’ve said in previous posts on the matter, here’s hoping for a favorable outcome on behalf of the Village of Niles and 6143 Howard Partners Inc.

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

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

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

Chicago Requires $754 Million In New Revenue, Cuts To Balance Books

For a couple of years now, regular readers of Survival And Prosperity have witnessed me blog about higher fees/fines/taxes and reduced government services as Chicago’s financial reckoning day draws closer.

I fear the pace of all this is about to pick up.

Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website late Friday afternoon:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel must come up with at least $754 million in new revenue and budget cuts to balance the city’s books, according to preliminary 2016 budget estimates the administration released Friday.

A little less than half — $328 million — would cover increased payments to the police and fire pension funds that Emanuel and aldermen did not account for in this year’s budget. That number could be even higher if the mayor doesn’t get the pension relief he’s seeking from Springfield.

In addition, City Hall must figure out how to close a projected $426 million hole in next year’s budget, an annual financial analysis showed. The shortfall comes as Emanuel has been borrowing at high interest rates to keep the city afloat.

Unlike previous years, Emanuel is not taking a property tax increase off the table. 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)

Chicago property owners are probably hoping for an endless summer- considering what could be in store for them next month.

A significant property tax hike in and of itself might not be enough to make Chicagoans think about moving out of the city. However, sustained pressure on household finances from all applicable fees, fines, and taxes could do it, particularly if government services (public safety comes to mind here) steadily erode.

You can read the entire piece on the Tribune website here (registration required).

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

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

Crain’s Chicago Business: Pension Reform Ruling Could Cost Taxpayers Extra $200 Million A Year Through End Of Decade

In my Sunday post about Chicago’s pension reform legislation being ruled unconstitutional, I blogged:

Chicagoans- let that last line from Dardick and Pearson sink in real good:

“Taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation…”

How many hundreds of millions are we talking about here?

Greg Hinz wrote in his blog on the Crain’s Chicago Business website Monday:

The court decision throwing out a deal to refinance two Chicago pension funds appears to be among the most costly in the city’s history, in some ways ranking right up there with the Great Chicago Fire.

Exact figures are not available and vary some depending on who’s doing the estimating. But based on statements by city officials and documents filed by the pension funds themselves, it’s likely that the decision by Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rita Novak will cost city taxpayers around $200 million a year through the end of the decade—and will keep rising for decades thereafter.

“You’d have to go back to either the Depression or the Great Fire to find a comparable situation in which the city faced either greater challenges or more painful decisions,” Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said. “It’s clearly going to result in increased taxes and reduced services.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Remember, that additional $200 million hit to Chicago taxpayers would come on top of addressing fire and police pensions. And bailing out the Chicago Public Schools, which had its credit rating reduced to junk status today by Fitch Ratings. In May, I noted Moody’s downgraded the Chicago Board of Education (the primary debt issuers of CPS) three notches to junk.

You can read Hinz’s entire blog post on the Crain’s Chicago Business website here. If I were still a Chicago resident, I’d probably find it disturbing. But at least I’d be clued in as to what could be coming down the line.

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

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

Cook County Gun Violence ‘Czar,’ Task Force Proposed

Why do I have the suspicion the following will result in yet another push for more gun “control” in Cook County? Michael Romain reported on the Austin Weekly News (Chicago) website last Thursday:

Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin (D-1st) has proposed an ordinance establishing the appointment of a Cook County gun violence czar and the establishment of a Cook County Gun Violence Task Force…

According to the proposed ordinance, the gun violence czar and task force “will serve as an investigative and fact-finding body with the objective of recommending a set of policies to the president and County Board designed to reduce gun violence in Cook County over a period of six months.”

The nine-member task force — which the ordinance notes will comprise members appointed by the Cook County board president, the Cook County state’s attorney, the Cook County sheriff and the chief judge of the county’s circuit court — will hold public hearings chaired by the gun violence czar.

The hearings — which will take place “over a period of time not to exceed six months” — will gather testimony and data from a variety of professionals about the “economic, social and cultural causes of gun violence” in the county and will “culminate in a written set of policy recommendations […] designed to reduce gun violence in Cook County effective January 1, 2016.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Czar” or “tsar.” Russian take on the Latin “caesar.”

Yeah, nothing suspicious about something so authoritarian sounding, right?

Still, I hope I’m wrong here, and that any resulting policy recommendations aren’t merely additional gun “control” measures.

Guess we’ll find out soon enough.

You can read the full article on the Austin Weekly News website here.

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

Tags: , , , , ,

Judge Rules Chicago’s Pension Reform Legislation Unconstitutional

Here’s the latest on Chicago’s public pension crisis. Hal Dardick and Rick Pearson reported on the Chicago Tribune website last night:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration said it will appeal a Cook County judge’s decision Friday that ruled unconstitutional a state law reducing municipal worker pension benefits in exchange for a city guarantee to fix their underfunded retirement systems.

The 35-page ruling by Judge Rita Novak, slapping down the city’s arguments point by point, could have wide-ranging effects if upheld by the Illinois Supreme Court. Her decision appeared to also discredit efforts at the state and Cook County levels to try to curb pension benefits to rein in growing costs that threaten funding for government services.

The issue of underfunded pensions, and how to restore their financial health, is crucial for the city and its taxpayers. The city workers and laborers funds at issue in Friday’s ruling are more than $8 billion short of what’s needed to meet obligations — and are at risk of going broke within 13 years — after many years of low investment returns fueled by recession and inadequate funding.

Without reducing benefits paid to retired workers, or requiring current workers to pay more, taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Chicagoans- let that last line from Dardick and Pearson sink in real good:

“Taxpayers could eventually be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars more in annual payments to those city funds — before the even worse-funded police and fire retirement accounts are factored into the taxing equation…”

And the City’s response to the ruling? Mayor Emanuel’s Press Office countered Friday:

Statement of City of Chicago Corporation Counsel Stephen Patton on SB1922

“While we are disappointed by the trial court’s ruling, we have always recognized that this matter will ultimately be resolved by the Illinois Supreme Court. We now look forward to having our arguments heard there. We continue to strongly believe that the City’s pension reform legislation, unlike the State legislation held unconstitutional this past spring, does not diminish or impair pension benefits, but rather preserves and protects them. This law not only rescues the municipal and laborer pension funds from certain insolvency, but ensures that, over time, they will be fully funded and the 61,000 affected City workers and retirees will receive the pensions they were promised.”

As to the City of Chicago’s credit rating possibly getting whacked after the decision? Timothy W. Martin reported on The Wall Street Journal website Friday afternoon:

Moody’s said Friday’s ruling had no effect on Chicago’s bond grade. But rival Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, which currently has an investment-grade rating for the city, said that “regardless of the ultimate outcome” of Mr. Emanuel’s pension law, it “will likely lower” its Chicago rating in the next six months, unless city leaders chart out a solution to address its pension problems.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Like I’ve been saying for a couple years now, that proverbial brick wall keeps approaching for Chicago.

Since City Hall can’t get its affairs in order, Chicagoans might want to look at straightening out theirs if they intend to stick around for the long haul.

Sources:

Dardick, Hal and Pearson, Rick. “Judge finds city’s changes to pension funds unconstitutional.” Chicago Tribune. 24 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-chicago-pension-ruling-met-20150724-story.html). 25 July 2015.

Martin, Timothy W. “Chicago’s Pension Overhaul Plan Tossed Out by Judge.” The Wall Street Journal. 24 July 2015. (http://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-rules-2014-law-to-reduce-chicago-pension-shortfall-unconstitutional-1437754525). 25 July 2015.

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

Downtown Chicago Diners Could See 11.25 Percent Sales Tax In 2016

Back on July 16, I noted the total sales tax rate in Chicago and the rest of Cook County looks to rise to 10.25 percent again in the coming year, making it one of the highest rates in the nation.

But diners of certain downtown Chicago eateries could be hit by an even higher sales tax rate. Pointing out an additional sales tax (“McPier tax”) downtown that tacks on an additional 1 percent to food/beverage bills, Lauren Choolijian reported on the WBEZ 91.5 website yesterday:

For restaurant patrons that dine south of Diversey Parkway, north of the Stevenson Expressway, east of Ashland Avenue and west of Lake Michigan, the Cook County proposal means an 11.25 percent sales tax will be added to their tab in 2016. The McPier tax affects all food and beverage purchases prepared for “immediate consumption,” and that includes soft drinks and alcoholic beverages…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Actual and proposed fee, fine, and tax increases are making the headlines quite often these days in the Chicago area. If my suspicions prove correct (these hikes are just the first of many due to steadily eroding financial conditions), Chicagoland residents, workers, and prospective visitors will increasingly seek alternatives (for example, dining out closer to home as it concerns the above), local government revenue collection will plummet, and public services will continue to be scaled back.

Anyway, check out Choolijian’s piece on the WBEZ site here for the full details of the 11.25 percent sales tax hit.

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

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

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015 Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes, Tourism No Comments

Crain’s Chicago Business: City’s Rising Fees, Fines, And Taxes Look To Continue

Chicago readers of Survival And Prosperity might want to read two articles that recently appeared on the Crain’s Chicago Business website concerning rising fees, fines, and taxes in the city. In a piece entitled “Chicago’s expanding appetite for new taxes,” Thomas A. Corfman wrote Saturday:

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel has held the line on property taxes, revenue from other local taxes has climbed nearly 20 percent since he took office.

A strengthening economy explains much of the surge. But Emanuel has fueled the growth by raising taxes on things such as cable TV and parking…

Keep in mind that “line on property taxes” may soon be breached. Significantly. Corfman added:

While property tax revenue has fluctuated slightly since 2011 after accounting for new construction, that’s likely to end soon. The badly undercapitalized police and firefighter pension funds are supposed to receive a state-mandated $550 million payment next year. Property taxes will likely account for the bulk of the increase, says Ald. Roderick Sawyer of the South Side’s 6th Ward

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

This comes on the heels of another Corfman article entitled, “How much could Chicago pension payments jack up your property bill? Try 30%”. He wrote on July 4:

Even as Mayor Rahm Emanuel warns about a property tax hike of up to $250 million for the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools, another big wave of increases likely is coming to rescue the pensions of police officers and firefighters.

A massive payment due to those retirement plans next year could drive up Chicago property taxes by more than 30 percent, according to a Crain’s analysis. And if the current logjam in Springfield continues, it could be a lot worse

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

As I wouldn’t steal Crain’s thunder, you can read Corfman’s July 18 article here and his July 4 piece here.

And as always, my intention is not to scare Chicago residents/businesses by blogging about such material. Rather, as a former Chicagoan this is something I feel my former neighbors should be made aware of, especially if they plan on staying in the “Windy City.”

Got to figure out some way to keep ahead of those rising fees, fines, and taxes and eroding public services.

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

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

Size Of Cook County Sales Tax Hike Necessary?

No surprise here. Hal Dardick reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle persuaded just enough commissioners to approve a 1-percentage-point sales tax increase Wednesday — the culmination of a major political about-face, but a move she said was needed to bail out the county worker pension system.

Following weeks of one-on-one lobbying sessions by Preckwinkle, nine of the 17 commissioners voted to raise the county share of the sales tax to 1.75 percent. Add up the state, city and public transit portions, and the total sales tax rate in Chicago once again will hit 10.25 percent — one of the highest rates in the nation

Preckwinkle first rose to power in 2010 on a campaign pledge of repealing what remained of an identical sales tax increase under predecessor Todd Stroger…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Opponents of the sales tax hike claim the County didn’t perform enough belt-tightening before approving the measure. County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (10th District) penned on the Tribune website on July 1:

Don’t get me wrong, the county has a serious budget and pension cost gap, predicted to be $479 million. The proposed 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax would raise some $474 million annually.

But $130 million of the deficit goes away with pension reform. An additional $50 million in savings has already been identified by the budget staff. Yet another $50 million is in reach if we are finally willing to consolidate our redundant taxing bodies and duplicative services…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Back on December 5, 2013, I pointed out Illinois has the most units of local government of any state in the country at 6,963 local governments (U.S. Census Bureau).

It’s been reported Cook County is home to 1,300 of these taxing agencies alone.

The sales tax hike goes into effect starting January 1, 2016.

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

Sources:

Dardick, Hal. “Cook County Board votes to raise sales tax.” Chicago Tribune. 15 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/ct-cook-county-sales-tax-increase-met-0716-20150715-story.html#page=1). 16 July 2015.

Gainer, Bridget. “Commentary: Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer: I won’t vote for a sales tax hike.” Chicago Tribune. 1 July 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-cook-county-tax-preckwinkle-gainer-perspec-0702-jm-20150701-story.html). 16 July 2015.

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

Latest On Chicago’s ‘Routine Military Training Exercise’ Over The Next Week

This Monday, I blogged about Chicago hosting a “routine military training exercise” over the next two weeks.

Here’s the latest on the event, per the City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications website earlier today:

The City of Chicago is providing continued support for a routine military training exercise in and around the Chicagoland area over the next week. This routine training is conducted by military personnel in cities across the country, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments overseas, as service members meet mandatory training certification requirements and prepare for upcoming deployments worldwide.

As part of this training, residents can expect to see increased aircraft activity, including helicopter flights. All training activities have been pre-coordinated with federal, state and city officials, and these locations have been carefully selected to minimize the impact on the daily routine of residents.

The training is not open to the public and the sites will be secured to ensure the safety of residents and the participants.

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

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, July 16th, 2015 Government, Military, Training No Comments


Survival And Prosperity
Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Est. 2010, Chicagoland, USA

Successor to Boom2Bust.com
"The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street" (Memorial Day 2007-2010)

Please Rate this Blog HERE

Limited Time Offers

Via Banner Ads Below (navigate to vendor home page if necessary); Updated 8/26/15:
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>BUDK Warehouse Blowout Sale Up To 70% Off
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>CHIEF Supply Entire Order Ships Free With Any 5.11 Purchase Thru 8/31
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Pyramyd Air Get 20% Cash Back On All Purchases 8/15/15-8/31/15 If It Rains 9/12/15; Used Air Guns Up To 35% Off Retail
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Airsoft Megastore Free Shipping On All Orders (no code required)
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>BulletSafe Bulletproof Baseball Cap $119 Pre-Order Price; Bulletproof Backpack Panel $99
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Food Insurance Bonus Bucks Are Back!; Save Up To 43% On Freeze-Dried Seasoned Ground Turkey Pieces
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Nitro-Pak All Camping Food Pouches 15% Off; Pork Chops Pieces $68; Clearance Sale Up To 70% Off
ANY CHARACTER HERE
>Tractor Supply Co. Free UPS Ship To Store
NEW! Advertising Disclosure HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Buy Gold And Silver Coins BGASC Review Coming Soon
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Free UPS ship to store on all Tractor Supply Company orders! Shop now! Tractor Supply Co. Review Coming Soon
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Nitro-Pak--The Emergency Preparedness Leader Nitro-Pak Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
MyPatriotSupply.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Food Insurance Reviewed HERE
BullionVault BullionVault.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
CHIEF Supply Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BulletSafe Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
BUDK bowie knife BUDK Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Pyramyd Air is your one-stop shop for everything airgun related. PyramydAir.com Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Airsoft Megastore Reviewed HERE
ANY CHARACTER HERE
Survival Titles Save 20% Paladin Press Reviewed HERE
 

Categories

Archives

Prepper Website
  • Observation, Theory About Greek Bank Safe Deposit Box Restrictions

    Continuing “Greek Week” on Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes, Greek state television has announced Greek banks will remain closed for the remainder of this week. Both Reuters and the Associated Press have reported cash withdrawals from Greek bank safe deposit boxes have been prohibited. Reuters ran its story Sunday while the Associated Press revealed Monday: No […] ...
  • Safe Deposit Boxes In Private Vaults See ‘Huge Increase In Demand’ By Wealthy Greeks

    While pouring over the latest news of Greece’s sovereign debt crisis tonight, I spotted the following snippet on the Daily Mail (UK) website. Nick Fagge reported Wednesday: Safety-box deposit firms have reported a huge increase in demand with wealthy Greeks storing their cash and other valuables anywhere other than their bank… (Editor’s note: Bold added […] ...
  • Confusion Over Accessing Cash In Greek Bank Safe Deposit Boxes

    Yesterday, I blogged about a Reuters piece from Sunday which said cash withdrawals from Greek bank safe deposit boxes were now prohibited. Monday, the Associated Press reported that accessing currency from these containers might be left to the legislative process. From the Fox News website: There was confusion Sunday night over the fate of bank […] ...
  • Cash Withdrawals From Greek Bank Safe Deposit Boxes Forbidden

    Something tells me confidence in bank safe deposit boxes is going to plummet as word of the following gets out. Reuters’ Lefteris Papadimas and George Georgiopoulos reported Sunday: Greeks cannot withdraw cash left in safe deposit boxes at Greek banks as long as capital restrictions remain in place, a deputy finance minister told Greek television […] ...
  • Happy Independence Day!

    Just wanted to wish readers of Offshore Safe Deposit Boxes a happy Independence Day. Christopher E. Hill Editor ...