Property taxes for Cook County homeowners are about to spike, especially in Chicago.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel revealed his 2016 budget proposal last September, calling for a proposed $543 million property tax hike to raise money for pension payments for police and firefighters. As a result, the city adopted a four-year property tax increase.
The average homeowner in Chicago will see property bills go up nearly 13 percent or just over $400 per year, according to figures released Monday by Cook County Clerk David Orr.
Individual increases will likely swing much higher or lower, according to the Cook County Accessor’s Office, varying widely based on a property’s change in current market value.
The hikes come as market values for homes in many areas of Cook County have “grown substantially” as the economy continues to recover.
“With the market now healthier, prices and value are better,” a release from Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios read. “Therefore, assessments have grown, just as they declined during the ‘down’ market of previous years.”
Cook County residents in the north and south suburbs will see the most modest increases, according to the data. A large majority of the additional money being paid by homeowners will go to schools, as well as the police and fire pensions. Homeowners will see the higher bills as soon as this week, before payments are due Aug. 1.
Emanuel and the City Council are also considering options for property tax rebates.
The options include a property tax rebate for homeowners with incomes of less than $100,000, proposed by Ald. Moreno and Ald. Smith; a property tax rebate for homeowners with incomes of 400 percent or less of the Federal Poverty Level and owners of certain rental propoerties, proposed by Ald. Rosa; a property tax rebate for homeowners with incomes of less than $50,000 based on the 2010 City Rebate Program; and a property tax rebate for homeowners with incomes of less than $50,000, based on Moreno and Smith's formula. The rebate would be structured in $25 increments and would be capped at $200.
According to an official from the City of Chicago's Office of Budget Managment, Emanuel's office doesn't have a rebate option preference. Following conversations with aldermen Tuesday, a solution with a combination of options is expected.
The payment of Chicago's fire and pension funds has been politicized in recent months. In May, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a plan to reduce Chicago's payments to the funds for each of the next five years, saying it's the kind of "irresponsible" practice that led to Illinois' deep financial woes.
The Legislature approved the measure last year, after Democrats said it would save the retirement funds without crushing taxpayers. Following the veto, Emanuel said the Republican governor "just told every Chicago taxpayer to take a hike."
Nevertheless, both the Illinois Senate and House ultimately voted to override Rauner's veto days later.