Daley's Tax Relief Plan Is Pure Politics

Links meters to tax relief

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Nov 27, 2009  |  Updated 11:13 AM CDT
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Mayor Richard M. Daley.

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Mayor Daley's attempt this week to pull off a clever political double-play involving parking meter money and property tax relief moved forward this week with some friction. But the heat is probably not not enough to derail the scheme.

The mayor wants to use $35 million in reserve funds from the controversial leasing of the city's parking meters to fund property tax relief grants to homeowners with salaries of up to $200,000 (based on the honor system; no verification required.)

This would accomplish two things: show a good side to the politically unpopular meter mess, and put Daley on the good side of homeowners even though he's as responsible as anyone for their high property tax bills.

Two birds, one stone.

Of course, it's not as if the city can afford to just sling $35 million out the door.

Uppity aldermen on the city council's Finance Committee raised a ruckus at first.  But after Daley suggested they could face reprisals at the ballot box (hint, hint) if they didn't go along, the proposal passed, albeit with five courageous councilmembers remaining in opposition.

"Nothing more than a political gimmick," Ald. Joe Moore (49th).

Also voting against: Ricardo Munoz (22nd), Toni Foulkes (15th), JoAnn Thompson (16th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd).

The full council is scheduled to take up the measure next week.

What's the gimmick? Relief checks would be paltry. Homeowners making $25,000 a year would get a $200 check. A nice little bonus, but about equal to a few parking tickets. Meanwhile, a homeowner earning $199,000 a year would get a check for $100. Is that really necessary?

Only if you plan on bragging about property tax relief in your next campaign.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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