Some concerned about tax hikes after stopgap budget signed

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With financial help from Springfield, Chicago Public School students won't be getting an extended summer vacation. Schools will open on time thanks in part to Chicago taxpayers. (WLS)

The state's stopgap budget, signed Thursday, includes funding for Chicago Public Schools, but it's only a one year deal. Now, some Chicago residents are concerned about tax hikes.

While principals, teachers and parents no longer have to worry about the drastic cuts that CPS has been threatening, Chicago taxpayers will be taking a hit. And it's something that many say is unavoidable.

With financial help from Springfield, Chicago Public School students won't be getting an extended summer vacation. Schools will open on time thanks in part to Chicago taxpayers.

The budget agreement allows the mayor to raise property taxes to pay for teacher pensions, which means for a $250,000 home, taxes will go up by $210 a year.

"Chicago, whether it is Rahm Emanuel, whether it's the teachers they don't have it figured out," Jo Etta Harris, a Chicago resident, said.

"So if it's been under funded and taxpayers have to take a hit, that's how it works," Ann Hemenway, a Chicago homeowner, said.

The teacher's pension fund has been under funded for years. The city took pension holidays while keeping property taxes relatively low and continuing to spend money on various projects.

"Chicagoans enjoyed seeing new parks built, they enjoyed seeing all these roads and all these great projects," 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack, said. "But at the same time, we were seeing the foundation crumble on the pension system and that's gotten us to the point we're at today."

Waguespack is relieved cps is getting help from springfield, but he says before turning to the taxpayers again..cps must show residents it can be better managed...

"There is no doubt that CPS will have to continue to tighten its belt, continue to gain efficiencies. But this agreement will help protect our classrooms," Forrest Claypool, CPS CEO, said.

While the budget agreement prevents the 25 to 30 percent cuts CPS has been threatening for the past few weeks, some Chicagoans worry about the long term.

Harris' daughter will be in kindergarten next year and she says with the combination of a tax hike and what she says are poor public school options, she's headed to the burbs.

"I'm on Realtor.com every day looking for places in Oak Park, places with better schools," Harris said.

Harris says Chicago property taxes are catching up with the suburbs, with what she says is nothing to show for it when it comes to schools.

Meantime, alderman and state lawmakers hope the budget deal is the beginning of some stability for CPS.
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