Autumn 2020: Government Affairs Update | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

The REALTOR® “R” stands for so much, including resiliency, reliability and responsibility. One of the most important ways to be responsible is to demonstrate civic responsibility. Democracy is a verb. It takes the action of everyday citizens to sustain the republic. There are many duties asked of citizens, from jury duty, registering for selective service and, in the year 2020, participation in the Census and voting.

EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE

The most sacred responsibility of a citizen is to take part in democracy through voting. Standing in lines for a long period of time is not ideal on most days and is especially problematic during the COVID-19 crisis. Illinois is one of thirty-five states which allows no-excuse absentee voting. Vote by mail requires an application. Suburban residents need to contact the County Clerk, Karen Yarbrough at www.cookcountyclerk.com. City dwellers can contact the Chicago Board of Elections at www.chicagoelections.gov. Both websites have online applications to receive a mailed ballot. The deadline to submit a vote-by-mail application is October 29. Ballots must be postmarked by Election Day to be counted.

IL CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS ON YOUR BALLOTS

Keep in mind: November’s ballot will include a vote on a constitutional amendment regarding the income tax. Currently, Illinois is a flat tax state, meaning everyone pays the same rate. If voters approve a “graduated income tax,” higher income earners would pay a higher rate. This is part of Governor Pritzker’s campaign promise to make the system less burdensome on lower income folks, which is why the term “Fair Tax” is used in referencing the issue.

STATE AND LOCAL BUDGETS

State and local budget problems are widespread, with decreased revenue and increased health related expenses. Congress has positioned state and local budget issues as a point of contention. The Republican-controlled Senate viewed state and local deficits as the result of poor spending habits of progressive or left-leaning jurisdictions. Democrats in the House were responsive to the budget concerns but debated this issue for months. As of press time, legislation was still up for debate. Check ChicagoREALTOR.com to stay abreast of any updates.

For fiscal year (FY) 2020, there is an estimated revenue loss of nearly $220 million to the Cook County general fund. No shocker on where some of the big losses come from: sales taxes are down $110 million or 13 percent, amusement tax down $33.5 million or 84 percent and hotel tax down $20.7 million or 60 percent. The preliminary budget deficit headed into 2021 is $410 million, the largest deficit for the county since 2011. President Preckwinkle has publicly stated that “everything is on the table.”

In Chicago, we’re expecting to feel a good deal of pain, with layoffs a serious part of the equation and tax increases almost certainly on the table. At press time in mid August, Chicago was facing at least a $700 million deficit – and that’s before you add in our pension obligations.

Considering the above, property taxes and real estate fees cannot be the “go-to” source for the government’s financial salvation, particularly considering the high rates property owners face in the state. Residents are leaving Illinois in droves. Increases in property taxes will only foster continued migration out of the state. Further, elected officials prioritized tenant protections through eviction moratoriums. These uneven protections clearly favor tenants over housing providers, which creates long-term risks. Tilting the scale in favor of one side over another is always a dangerous path forward.

AFFORDABLE REQUIREMENTS ORDINANCE UPDATE

As of press time, the Affordable Requirements Ordinance Task Force had yet to issue their report; however, we know it’s coming. There will be a 30-day period for public comment sometime in September, possibly into October. Rest assured, the REALTORS® will respond in some form. Based on what we’ve heard so far, it’s possible that the report may be surprisingly helpful to business and the real estate industry. We, alongside our friends at the Chicagoland Apartment Association and the Homebuilders Association of Greater Chicago, have been very vocal about the disconnect between the developers and those seeking affordable housing — and we hear the city is looking at ways to bridge those gaps. Stay tuned to ChicagoREALTOR.com for the latest.

THE LATEST ON EVICTIONS

Governor Pritzker’s eviction moratorium is set to expire once again in late September — and it is unknown whether he will extend it. We believe politics are at play in the background and he is likely to continue extending the moratorium until the colder months are upon us, when evictions become unenforceable due to weather.

If the eviction moratorium is lifted this fall, keep in mind that the new Fair Notice legislation and Chicago COVID-19 Protection Ordinance, including the cooling off period, will apply. More details are available at ChicagoREALTOR.com.

ADUS ON HOLD

The Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) measure did not get the votes we needed this summer and was not advanced further. There’s a slight chance ADUs come up in September, but past that, it’s a sure bet that the ADU legislation will be on hold until after the budget discussions — likely springtime, when the City Council will be more inclined to play nice again.

CHICAGO REASSESSMENTS

Another issue on our radar is the reassessment of Chicago properties in 2021. Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi has received a lot of backlash on his reassessment numbers in different parts of the county. Chicago residential property owners benefit by having such heavy commercial real estate; however, the impact of COVID-19 may have significant negative ramifications on the office market. Considering the uncertainties with a reassessment year, many commercial owners are holding their breath. The potential for misunderstanding and confusion is a concern. Therefore, CAR will be working closely with the Assessor’s office to provide regular member communication on this topic throughout 2021.

On the residential side, we hosted a Property Tax Appeals workshop in early September to help you close deals and add value to your clients. Please reach out to us and let us know if you want more of these workshops! The full recording is available to access via the Video Resources Library on ChicagoREALTOR.com.

RECORDER OF DEEDS OFFICE UPDATES

The Cook County Recorder of Deeds office will cease operations after December 7, 2020. All duties and responsibilities of the Recorder’s office will be under the Cook County Clerk, Karen Yarbrough. The Clerk’s office is responsible for vital records, suburban Cook elections, property tax records, etc. Acquiring the Recorder of Deeds responsibilities will enable some services to be streamlined. The County anticipates an improvement to the overall experience for residents. Eventually, this merger will save the County money. According to Commissioner Larry Suffredin, in the first year of the merger it will save $1.1 million and the second year $6 million. CAR staff will closely monitor the process to ensure it is seamless; however, if you or your real estate closing team experience any difficulties under the new administration, please reach out to CAR and let us know.

KEEP-UP-TO-DATE WITH THE CITY OF CHICAGO

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, so does the emergence of the new normal. Chicago City Council is expected to continue to meet via Zoom. For those wanting to watch the Chicago City Council, visit the City Clerk’s website at www.chicityclerk.com. If the Council or a Council Committee are in session, a blue banner will appear at the top of the page. Once you launch the banner, the meeting should appear. While civic duty encourages you to vote, it is never a bad idea to be abreast of government proceedings. To only elect representatives and to not hold them accountable is only partially fulfilling your duty as a citizen.

For more in-depth issue analysis and ongoing updates, please visit ChicagoREALTOR.com/advocacy.

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Contact your GADs Kristopher J. Anderson, Director of Government & External Affairs and Adriann Murawski, Director of Government Affairs.