Plan would bring property tax relief to homeowners

November 25, 2009 (CHICAGO) The relief would be based on how much your property tax went up combined with your household income. The full City Council was expected to vote on the proposal Wednesday, but it was delayed by a handful of alderman. Some call the proposal nothing but a political gimmick.

The cash strapped City of Chicago wants to help cash strapped homeowners. The City Council's finance committee has cleared the way for Mayor Daley's proposal to provide a very small amount of tax relief for residents who have been hit with higher property tax bills.

"It all depends on how much taxes have gone up and what your household income is," said Ald. Ed Burke, finance committee chairman.

Households with incomes up to $199,000 can qualify. Taxpayers can get a rebate ranging from $25 to $200.

Some aldermen have concerns about the income requirements.

"We are prepared to provide relief to people who make up to $199,000, which is 3 times the median income. Does that make sense? Or does it make sense to concentrate the relief for those who have .more modest incomes?" said Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, 4th Ward.

A full council vote on the proposal was delayed by five aldermen. They felt the proposal was being rushed through.

Twenty-second Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz wants more information to decide if the rebate is good policy.

"The key thing here is, Who's getting the benefit? And how are we gonna administer? And how do we know it's gonna bea a $35 million project?" said Munoz

The city would use $35 million from the parking meter lease fund to pay for the property tax relief. Some alderman say the city is in no financial position to be giving away money, even if comes from the parking meter windfall.

"It was $1.15 billion to lease the parking meters for 75 years, and we're going through the money pretty quickly in a way that I find disturbing," said Ald. Preckwinkle.

Ald. Burke is confident the proposal will pass. It's not just about policy, it's about politics.

"It's seldom that an elected official has an opportunity to get a refund for a constituent or for a voter, and I can't understand why anyone would be against this," said Burke.

Tuesday, Mayor Daley suggested homeowners may politically punish alderman who did not support the proposal. The plan will be taken up at next week's council meeting. If it passes, homeowners who qualify would apply for the rebates on a first come, first serve basis.

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