property tax hikes

Moody’s On Chicago Public Schools Crisis: Consider Tax Levy, Pension Contribution Stoppage, Or Bankruptcy

“Chicago and New York rank at the bottom of a new analysis of fiscal strength based primarily on data from 2015 financial reports issued by the cities themselves. The analysis includes 116 U.S. cities with populations greater than 200,000.

Chicago’s position at the bottom of the ranking is no surprise to anyone who follows municipal finance. The Windy City has become a poster child for financial mismanagement, having suffered a series of ratings downgrades in recent years. Aside from having thin reserves and large volumes of outstanding debt, Chicago is notorious for its underfunded pension plans…”

The Fiscal Times, January 9, 2107

Moody’s Investors Service recently weighed in on Chicago’s well-publicized financial crisis. Last Thursday its Global Credit Research division published the following on the Moody’s website:

While unfunded pension liabilities will continue weighing on the City of Chicago’s (Ba1 negative) credit profile, plans to significantly increase contributions with higher taxes is a favorable departure from prior funding practices. However, the liquidity crisis at Chicago Public Schools (CPS — B3 negative) is worsening amid a continued budget impasse at the state level, Moody’s Investors Service says in two new research reports released today…

In “City of Chicago: Frequently Asked Questions,” Moody’s says despite the city’s expanding economy, revenue growth, and healthy liquidity, its pension burden is likely to remain among the highest of any rated, major local government for many years.

“While Chicago’s recent tax increases will provide revenue to significantly increase pension funding, the city’s unfunded pension liabilities exceed seven times its revenue and are projected to grow for at least 15 more years,” says Matt Butler, Vice President of Moody’s…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The well-known credit rating agency added this about the city’s public school system:

In a separate report, “Chicago Public Schools: Frequently Asked Questions,” Moody’s states CPS’ fiscal pressures are intensifying due to depletion of reserves following years of imbalanced operations, unrealistic budget assumptions, and escalating pension costs…

Moody’s says CPS could consider more difficult options to address its finances should the State of Illinois (Baa2 negative) be unable or unwilling to provide additional relief: levy for debt service on GO alternate revenue bonds, stop making employer pension contributions, or seek state authorization to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

MarketWatch news editor Rachel Koning Beals expanded on Moody’s suggestions for dealing with the CPS situation. She wrote Saturday:

Moody’s has a revised shortlist of painful fixes for the public school system in Chicago.

One idea is to approve another increasingly politically unpopular property-tax levy to pay off debt, as the nation’s third-largest school district just issued another batch of high-interest bonds.

The second idea from the credit-ratings agency is to skip a pension payment to the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund, which would come just months after the district and its teacher‘s union hammered out an 11th-hour contract to avoid a second labor strike in a span of four years.

And last resort? Just declare bankruptcy already

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Who’s the say the City will act on any of these suggestions (at least, right away)? That being said, Chicago taxpayers and CPS employees/retirees might want to take heed of all this.

Head on over to the Moody’s Investors Service website here to read the entire release from the Global Credit Research division. It ain’t pretty.

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

Source:

Koning Beals, Rachel. “Maybe Chicago schools should declare bankruptcy and get it over with, says Moody’s.” MarketWatch. 14 Jan. 2017. (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/maybe-chicago-schools-should-declare-bankruptcy-and-get-it-over-with-says-moodys-2017-01-13). 16 Jan. 2017.

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Monday, January 16th, 2017 Bankruptcy, Bonds, Debt Crisis, Education, Entitlements, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes Comments Off on Moody’s On Chicago Public Schools Crisis: Consider Tax Levy, Pension Contribution Stoppage, Or Bankruptcy

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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Thursday, December 29th, 2016 Education, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes, Transportation, Utilities Comments Off on 2017 Tax Hits To Chicagoans

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

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

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

Chicago’s Property Tax Hike To Hammer Small Business, Renters?

Looks like my girlfriend and I may have dodged yet another bullet moving out of our Chicago rental when we did (no pun intended). Hal Dardick and Bob Secter reported on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday morning:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has framed his record $588 million property tax hike plan around the notion that it will include breaks for those of modest means, but hundreds of thousands of renters who fit that description are still likely to pay more because they can’t benefit from the mayor’s safeguards.

The mayor has vowed to make sure “that the burden is borne by those who can best afford it,” evoking images of thriving downtown businesses and fancy high-rise condominiums. But also in the crosshairs of the tax hike would be mom-and-pop businesses and a large number of apartment dwellers whose landlords typically build property tax expense into the rent

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I’m not going to steal Dardick’s and Secter’s thunder, so head on over to the Tribune website here to read the entire article (registration required).

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

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Thursday, October 8th, 2015 Business, Debt Crisis, Government, Housing, Taxes Comments Off on Chicago’s Property Tax Hike To Hammer Small Business, Renters?

Thinking Of Illinois’ Financial Woes While In Wisconsin

Saturday morning while working on projects around my family’s place in Wisconsin, something I read earlier in the week came to mind. Steven Malanga wrote on The Fiscal Times website on March 30:

Illinois officials… are awaiting a ruling from the state’s Supreme Court on a suit by workers seeking to overturn the legislature’s 2013 pension reforms. If the court, which has previously refused to allow any changes to retirement plans for retirees or current workers, throws out the reforms, Illinois will face $145 billion in higher taxes over the next three decades just to pay off the debt, according to a report by the Civic Committee of Chicago.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

“Illinois will face $145 billion in higher taxes…”

I don’t recall hearing/seeing that figure being used before, so I decided to track it back to the source. From an October 9, 2014, press release from the Civic Committee:

The “What If?” initiative identifies some of the consequences that could result from an overturn of the pension law, including:

$145 billion in higher taxes and service cuts over 30 years
• Highest property taxes in the nation
• 41¢ of Big Three state tax dollars devoted to pensions, up from 8¢ in 2007
• A possible $2,500 tuition spike at the University of Illinois
• Severe cuts to K-12 education, leading to as many as 13,000 teacher layoffs
• Critical meltdown of social services, including the end of child care for 41,000 kids and 21,000 seniors losing in-home care

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That’s a pretty scary picture being painted. The accompanying “What If?” brochure does a good job at accomplishing that. Consider some of these additional forecasts being made:

• 64,000 jobs lost
• $375 average property tax increase
• $3,000-plus in state taxes per household

The brochure didn’t indicate how all this was computed.

However, if conditions in the “Land of Lincoln” deteriorate to such a point, Wisconsin is where I’ll likely stay for good. Regular readers might recall that I’ve mentioned my permanent address being a Wisconsin one in the future.

You can read that entire press release/learn more about their “What If?” initiative on the Civic Committee website here.

While I support public pension reform in Illinois, I’m just not convinced what’s been put into play (passed into law) is the best way of going about it.

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

Source:

Malanga, Steven. “Outrageous public pensions could bankrupt these states.” The Fiscal Times. 30 Mar. 2015. (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/outrageous-public-pensions-could-bankrupt-172700274.html). 5 Apr. 2015.

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Monday, April 6th, 2015 Debt Crisis, Education, Employment, Entitlements, Government, Legal, Taxes Comments Off on Thinking Of Illinois’ Financial Woes While In Wisconsin

Chicago City Council Budget Chair On Property Tax Hike: ‘I Believe We Can Truly Say That It Will Happen’

Back when I was an aide to U.S. Senator Paul Simon of Illinois, there was one cardinal rule to be followed when communicating with constituents:

Good news comes from Paul, bad news comes from his assistants.

With that in mind, last night my girlfriend and I were watching the Chicago news on TV when the following story appeared. From the WGN Web Desk this morning:

A Chicago property tax hike could be on the way.

That wasn’t announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

It was said by an alderman who is trying to help him get reelected.

Several of Emanuel’s allies held a press conference Monday to question how challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia would pay for the promises he’s making on the campaign trail.

That’s when 34th Ward Alderman Carrie Austin, the City Council budget chairman, said property tax increases may be needed to cover Emanuel’s spending plans.

“I believe we can truly say that it will happen, but it’s all in the ‘how much,’” said Austin. “Nothing is off the table, and I think we should be honest with the people to let them know that everything is being considered.”

(Editor: Bold added for emphasis)

Considering the event was organized to attack mayoral challenger Jesús “Chuy” Garcia and this City Council routinely carries water for Emanuel, I initially thought “The Rahmfather” was trying to kill two birds with one stone here- blast “Chuy” and have Alderman Austin start conditioning Chicagoans for the looming property tax hike I’ve been warning about for some time now on this blog.

Good news Rahm. Bad news City Council budget chairman.

But then I thought more about how Rahm obviously realizes talk of tax hikes is one of the “third-rails” of politics- particularly before a runoff election that’s only a few weeks away (April 7) and where “Chuy” is not too far behind in the various polls.

Plus there’s this from Hal Dardick about the incident on the Chicago Tribune website yesterday:

Austin, known for speaking off the cuff, quickly tried to qualify her property tax hike comment, saying she meant only that “everything is on the table.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Maybe this wasn’t orchestrated by Rahm?

Oh well. Smooth move or gaffe, I see it as yet more evidence of a property tax hike being just around the corner.

Plan accordingly.

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

Sources:

“Mayor Emanuel Ally: Property tax hike likely.” WGN News Desk. 10 Mar. 2015. (http://wgntv.com/2015/03/10/mayor-emanuel-ally-property-tax-hike-likely/). 10 Mar. 2015.

Dardick, Hal. “Emanuel ally: Property tax hike likely in second term.” Chicago Tribune. 9 Mar. 2015. (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/politics/chi-emanuel-ally-says-property-tax-likely-in-second-term-20150309-story.html). 10 Mar. 2015.

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Tuesday, March 10th, 2015 Debt Crisis, Fiscal Policy, Government, Taxes Comments Off on Chicago City Council Budget Chair On Property Tax Hike: ‘I Believe We Can Truly Say That It Will Happen’
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