CHICAGO (CBS) — The City Council has approved the largest property tax hike in modern Chicago history, with the vast majority of the new revenue going to shore up police and fire pension funds.
By a 36-14 vote, aldermen signed off on a $7.8 billion budget plan for 2016, after only a few minor changes to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s original proposal. The budget includes $588 million in property tax increases over the next four years; with $543 million going to police and fire pensions, and $45 million going toward public school construction.
The budget includes a new monthly garbage collection fee, which Emanuel agreed to cap at $9.50 per household until after the 2019 election, to appease aldermen who feared the fees could go up before they come up for reelection. The fee would be charged to owners of single family homes and smaller apartment buildings of up to 4 units. Larger apartment buildings already are required to pay for private trash hauling.
The mayor said people must acknowledge the city is better when it meets its problems head-on.
Budget Committee Chair Carrie Austin (34th) kicked off the debate urging a yes vote by saying the budget plan puts the city back on a responsible path, and still paves streets and trims trees.
“We have to do the responsible thing. It’s not easy for anybody to pick up this heavy lifting. It’s not easy for a tax upgrade of $543 million,” she said. “None of this is easy.”