Chicago average property taxes up $72 to $180, driven by pension debt

Chicago average property taxes up $72 to $180, driven by pension debt

Chicago homeowners are likely to see average property tax bills rise between $72 and $180 based on the city’s new budget. Higher taxes are driven by $47 billion in pension debt, but pension reform can change that.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Sept. 20 her new budget comes with a $76.5 million property tax increase, so residents will average an extra $72 to $180 per year depending on where their house is.

“People are just so fed up with skyrocketing property tax bills,” Ward 2 Ald. Brian Hopkins said. “There’s a psychological impact to that where it’s one of the decisions people claim motivates them to leave Chicago.”

Chicago’s property tax levy will reach $1.71 billion, and 83% of the money will go to the city’s four employee pensions plans which are only 25% funded on average. All eight pension plans for which Chicago residents are responsible have less than 60% of the funds required to pay retirees – and a total debt of $47 billion.

If Chicago were a state, that $47 billion debt, which residents must eventually pay, would be more than 44 other states.

Chicago property tax bills have grown 90% since 2010. Spending for city services has increased 18% but pension spending increased 239% in that time.

Controlling the future growth of pensions can curb future property tax hikes, but that requires amending the Illinois Constitution. Lightfoot has come close, but needs to join former Mayor Rahm Emanuel in calling on state lawmakers to place a pension amendment on the ballot.

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