Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is all set to go ahead with his property tax rebate after city legislators failed to approve tax relief measures. He made the announcement on WTTW Ch. 11's 'Chicago Tonight' show.
He said he has already started speaking to the city's aldermen on what would be the best way to structure his proposal. In a way, it is ironic because these measures seek to protect homeowners from the tax hike the mayor himself championed.
If and when passed, the rebate will offset some of the $543 million in property tax hike he pushed on the city's citizens last year, ostensibly to strengthen the pensions of the city's policemen and firefighters. He has already made it clear that only homeowners will benefit from the rebate and no body else.
Proposal to offer rebates still on the drawing board
As of now, the proposed rebate is still a work in progress. We can say this much because on Tuesday, when he was asked for specifics of the program like by how much it would affect the city, how the rebate is going to be paid for and how much rebate can homeowners expect on their bills, a spokesperson for the Mayor said the details were not yet finalized.
The rebate became necessary because the proposed legislative measure that was supposed to give the intended relief did not pass legislative muster. The Mayor had committed that he would find an alternative if the city council failed to increase the property tax exemption limit. So he has no option but to give the rebate.
Earlier bill was dropped because of vociferous opposition by commercial property owners
The earlier bill wanted to stop tax hikes for homeowners whose houses were worth less than $250,000. But that bill had stalled in the city council because business groups strongly opposed hiking the property tax limit for homeowners. They argued that commercial properties would be forced to make up for the exemption offered to homeowners.
On the other hand, the major has been saying for months that he will be forced to find an alternative to the now failed tax exemption if the city failed to help its citizens. This is the not the first time that such rebates are being offered. They were given twice under former mayor, Richard Daley. The last time, they were offered in 2010, many homeowners actually failed to take them.