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Daley urges property tax cap bill

Friday, January 05, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley today urged state lawmakers to pass an enhanced version of the 7 percent property tax cap so that homeowners in Chicago are not hit with massive tax increases in the fall.

"This bill is needed immediately," Daley said at a press conference in Sherman Park in the Englewood neighborhood. "It's a crisis."

The so-called 7 percent cap in Cook County limits annual assessment increases for tax purposes by increasing the homeowner's exemption up to a maximum of $20,000. The law, passed in 2004, expires for Chicago homeowners this year. Legislation to extend it failed by a narrow margin in the November legislative session.

Daley said he supports a bill that would increase the maximum exemption to $60,000.

Business groups in particular oppose the 7 percent cap because it shifts some of the tax burden on to all other property taxpayers.

County Assessor James Houlihan, the bill's original proponent, said it would be "devastating" to homeowners if the cap was allowed to expire.

In a recent study, the Civic Federation research group found that homeowners could expect their tax bills to go up by more than 36 percent this fall if the cap is allowed to expire.

The group supports renewing the cap for another three years with the $20,000 exemption limit. Even with the renewal, residential tax bills in Chicago can be expected to increase by 10 percent.

The cap is set to expire in the rest of Cook County over the next two years.

Daley said the assessment cap is a short-term measure and that the real solution remains an overhaul of how schools are funded and shifting the burden away from property taxes.

"We rely on the property taxes more than almost every other state in the union," Daley said. "Heavy reliance on property taxes might have made sense 100 years ago when real estate was the primary form of wealth. But nowadays wealth is measured in many other ways."



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