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City Council Passes Budget With Chicago’s Largest Tax/Fee Hikes, Ald. Osterman Votes Against

Ald. Harry Osterman, Credit: EHS

On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposed budget for next year which includes a staggering $543 million in property tax increases to help pay for police and firefighter pensions. Of the 50 alderman, 35 voted in favor of the proposal which will be the largest increase in taxes, fines and fees in Chicago history.

Along with the property tax increases, Chicagoans will also have to cough up an additional $62 million in new garbage pickup fees. There will be $48 million in taxi and ride-share fare and fee hikes, $40 million in new taxes on streaming services and cloud businesses, an additional $13 million in higher building permit fees, $2 million to remove vehicle boots and $1 million in e-cigarette taxes.

Before the vote, 18 alderman expressed concern over the budget including Edgewater’s Harry Osterman, 48th Ward. He said, “We have departments that are growing in size. I question are we doing everything in our power to shrink the size of government before we go and ask the homeowners to pay more, and I can’t say in good conscience that we have.”

In a statement today, Osterman also said that the city could have looked for more cuts and efficiencies in government instead of asking the residents and businesses for so much. For example, he pointed to the hundreds of millions of dollars that will remain in TIFs this year that could have been returned.

Osterman said, “This was a difficult decision, but I am very concerned about the impact the property tax increase will have on the people of our ward — whether longtime homeowners who have helped make the community what it is today, renters who value the diversity and quality of life here, or small-business owners who play such a vital role in our day-to-day lives. Everyone will be affected, and I realize that as the cost of living continues to climb, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for some people to stay in our great neighborhood.”

Osterman added that finding inefficiencies would not have eliminated the tax hikes, but instead could have reduced the burden they will create. In the near future, there will be proposals for tax rebates that the alderman plans to review and share with area residents.

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