Rahm’s 2018 Budget: More taxes on the way?

Rahm’s 2018 Budget: More taxes on the way?

In the wake of the city’s 2018 preliminary budget report, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is playing it close to the vest about whether to raise taxes.

Chicago City Hall is claiming another success. This time, a shortfall of “only” $114.2 million: the smallest since 2007. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel points to reforms and efficiencies as well as city revenue growth for this reduced shortfall.

The reality is that the shrinking shortfall can be attributed to a bevy of tax increases and misleading accounting.

On the tax front, Emanuel pushed a record $588 million property tax hike, a $240 million water-sewer tax, and a $9.50-per-month garbage collection fee. That’s hardly “taxpayer savings.” Yet, Emanuel has refused to rule out additional taxes to cover this latest shortfall.

Additionally, this shortfall doesn’t account for an estimated $70 million to hire new police officers, costs associated with police reforms, or the costs of new contracts covering 90 percent of all city employees. Absent these exclusions, the mayor’s analysis notes the ever-growing crisis within the city’s pension funds, which will require over $2 billion in annual contributions by 2022. It is almost certain that this shortfall will grow into the $200 million range with taxpayers likely to cover the tab.

The city should rebuff any attempts to increase an already exorbitant and ever growing tax burden. Instead of nickel and diming Chicagoans, the city should be looking at real reforms such as introducing a 401(k)-style alternative to failing city pension fundsaddressing city spending and eliminating tax increment financing districts. Until the city enacts true reforms, residents will have to continue to live under the constant threat of increased taxes.

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