The CEO of Chicago Public Schools says a tax increase was a last resort for schools officials.
Not too long ago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he "couldn't in good conscience" ask tax payers to contribute more cash into a broken City of Chicago system.
Then Monday he asked for a $150 million property tax increase to help fund a struggling school system.
What that says about Emanuel's "good conscience" remains a question for loftier critics. But the idea to add up to a a 2.4 percent increase -- or $84 for a home valued at $250,000 -- to City of Chicago property tax hasn't been met with enthusiasm by the City Council.
In fact, alderman don't think the mayor and his hand picked school chief Jean-Claude Brizard made enough tough choices in cutting the budget to justify the tax hike. According to the Sun-Times:
“They have not shown clear and convincing evidence that they deserve a property tax increase because of all the waste and inefficiency still in the system,” said Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd).
Fioretti predicted “resistance all over the city.”
“We have such a fragile housing market. Raising taxes will only add to the foreclosure problem and send more of the middle class elsewhere. People have already been leaving the city because they don’t feel the central office has provided the kinds of programs necessary. I’m not convinced they’ve cut the right stuff or that they’ve cut enough.”
Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th), chairman of the City Council’s Education Committee, flatly declared, “I don’t agree with any property tax increase, especially when our residents are having such a hard time.”
Over the years, Chicago aldermen have raised periodic objections to school property tax increases before following through on their statutory obligation to approve the Board of Education’s annual levy.
Brizard defended the hike on Monday, saying his office looked closely at the budget and made many difficult administrative cuts to the main office.
Mayor Emanuel did not speak to the tax hike Monday.
Despite thier reservations, aldermen are required to approve the tax hikes recommended by the board of education.