A LOOK AT THE 2023 MUNICIPAL ELECTION
This spring is all about the municipal election. At least 16 City Council members are retiring, sparking competitive races for incumbents. Your RPAC dollars were spread throughout Chicago communities to help elect candidates that are willing and able to carry the REALTOR® message to City Hall. Candidates were vetted through questionnaires and interviews. We anticipate several runoff races after the February election. Once the dust settles this spring, we will have a better sense of the future dynamics of City Council, the mayor and what is in store for real estate.
In January, we partnered with Illinois REALTORS® to host a Mayoral Candidate Forum where each candidate was allowed to present their platform to members. This event is one of the many ways we provide direct access to political candidates.
THE ANNUAL CPI PROPERTY TAX INCREASE REPEAL WAS DEFEATED
This past December, a hearing occurred in the Finance Committee on repealing the Consumer Price Index (CPI) property tax increase.
If you’re unfamiliar with this issue, here’s a summary. Every year until 2058, the sitting mayor may include a property tax increase without going to voters; this increase is equal to the CPI or 5%, whatever is less. It is viewed as a tool to ensure the City’s pension programs are on a path to stability.
In the full City Council, the proposed ordinance had 14 bill sponsors. During the discussions in Finance, members were very supportive of our efforts to repeal the automatic property tax increase. However, the mayor’s office and labor worked to protect the property tax increase.
Ultimately, repealing the CPI property tax increase was defeated, because the pension program needs a stable source of funding. Rather than several massive property tax hikes, the small incremental increases provide a level of predictability and a stable funding mechanism for the City’s pension obligations. Going into the rest of the year, there is the possibility of an increase in property taxes through CPI each year, which City Council must approve in the budget. We will continue to be involved if there is a possibility of more increases.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE 2021 PROPERTY TAX BILL
The Cook County Treasurer’s Office released an analysis of the most recent property tax bills — which were sent a few months late. This analysis provides an overview of the neighborhoods that saw the largest increases and decreases throughout the county for both residential and commercial properties. In Chicago’s Lower West Side, residential property taxes rose 44.7%, followed by Humboldt Park with an increase of 29.5%. On the commercial side, West Garfield Park properties had an increase of 39.6%, and Bridgeport increased by 37.9%. The full report is available to view on the Cook County Treasurer’s website.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE CLEAN AND AFFORDABLE BUILDINGS ORDINANCE
Last fall, the mayor’s office released information regarding the Chicago Decarbonization Working Group Recommendation Report. This report recommended “equitable solutions to address the nearly 70% of total citywide greenhouse gas emissions that come from buildings in Chicago.”
Put simply, it identified various policies and actions related to issues like advancing decarbonization for homeowners, community anchors and local businesses in Chicago’s historically underserved communities. Other actionable items included reducing fossil fuel use and establishing the highest efficiency standards for new construction. The report also called on improving building energy use in performance through retrofits, advancement of renewable energy and the electrification of existing buildings. There was also a point about identifying financial and technical support to hit these targets.
Early drafts of a proposed ordinance were made available in late January. This ordinance includes changes that would apply to either new construction or renovation projects that fall into the following two categories: renovations that would expand the building to over 10,000 square feet or those that would exceed 25% of its original footprint. No specific penalties were included; however, a permit would not be issued if the building is not in compliance. Staff is working with a coalition of external stakeholders and closely monitoring this issue. We expect more legislative activities on this topic over the coming months.
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