CHICAGO (CBS) — With no debate, Chicago aldermen on Wednesday approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to raise water and sewer taxes by nearly 30 percent to help shore up the city’s largest pension fund.
Aldermen voted 40-10 to approve the plan, which would add about $240 million a year in new revenue for the Municipal Employees Pension Fund, the largest of the four employee pension funds managed by the city, once fully implemented after five years.
Emanuel thanked aldermen for having the courage to make the move.
“I commend those who voted, both in the past as it related to the Laborers’ Fund, Police and Fire, and today’s action, collectively; remarkably different point where Chicago’s financial picture has turned a page to a better position, and a better place. And the families that depend on it have depended on this council, and you’ve stepped up,” he said.
Some aldermen felt the tax would be an added burden on Chicago residents already burdened by higher property taxes, after last year’s record $588 million property tax hike to fund police and fire pensions.
The tax hike would raise the water and sewer bill for the average Chicago homeowner to $53 a year in 2017. The tax would jump to $115 in 2018, $180 by 2019, and $225 by 2020.
City officials confirm the tax won’t shore up the pension fund for good. More money will be needed in the future to assure the pension fund reaches 90 percent funding over a 40-year period.