Combine next year's increase with the increase this year and there's nearly $200 million in new school property taxes levied in Chicago during the past year. All the while Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues to insist he's held the line on property taxes.
The Chicago Board of Education made the announcement after the close of business on Wednesday. A one-page news release said the board would authorize the maximum allowed increase in the city's school tax levy to raise an additional $41 million for the district.
"We're actually going after the one thing that we can control, which is local property tax revenue and asking taxpayers to invest in the students of Chicago," Tim Cawley, CPS Chief administrative officer, said.
CPS is allowed to increase its share of the property tax based on the previous year's Consumer Price Index (CPI). The district estimates that next year, city property taxes will increase $28 per $250,000 in house value to raise the $41 million. That follows this year's increase-- based on a higher CPI of $84 per $250,000 that raised $150 million.
Mayor Emanuel would not answer questions Friday about taxes or any other subject. But on Thursday he said next year's even higher property tax bill would be worth paying.
"It protects the investments of early childhood education, class size, longer school day and parental choice by having made sure we have magnet and other types of choices in the system," Mayor Emanuel said.
Emanuel also repeated his claim that, unlike CPS, the city government he was elected to lead still had not raised property taxes.
"Under my budget, we held the line on property taxes," Mayor Emanuel said on Thursday.
"Basically he thinks people are stupid and I think people are tired of being treated like they're stupid by Chicago mayors," said Dan Proft, a critic of Emanuel and political analyst. Proft said the last two school tax increases are both owned by the mayor.
"The mayor is in control of the schools. The mayor makes appointments to the board. So for him to pretend to have separation from the board just doesn't pass the laugh test," Proft said.
The $41 million to be raised by an increase in the school tax levy is only a small of what's needed to balance the city public schools' projected $600 million deficit.
The CPS budget plan should be released sometime early next month.