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Morning Shorts

Wednesday, Oct 28, 2009

* City property tax: Blame game kicks off as bills leap - Daley lashes out at assessor, whose aide faults General Assembly

Despite the attack, Daley didn’t make clear how the assessor could have acted legally to alter the trajectory of the latest round of bills. The mayor also did not mention that new bills to Chicago residents reflect a $65 million City Hall property tax increase passed two years ago but that’s only showing up now. Houlihan spokesman Eric Herman blamed big hikes largely on the General Assembly’s decision to phase out a program designed to soften the effect on taxes of soaring property values earlier this decade. “This idea somehow that we’re going around jacking up everybody’s assessments is just fiction,” Herman said.

* Chicago hiring abuse report recommends suspension for city environment chief

Inspector general says deputy commissioner should be fired for trying to mislead investigators

* City Council hearings on Mayor Daley’s budget start today

* Council may reject any large pay hikes for cops: aldermen

If an independent arbitrator awards double-digit pay hikes to Chicago Police officers, there’s a good chance the City Council will reject it, some aldermen said Tuesday.

During closed-door briefings on the status of police negotiations, aldermen vented their anger about the fact that public safety employees who account for 70 percent of city spending have been exempt from furlough days and other cost-cutting concessions.

Some aldermen also served notice that City Council ratification can no longer be taken for granted.

* South Side projects at risk

* Costco wants Kiddieland site

* Homeless students: Increasingly, families taking shelter anywhere they can

* Better options a must for displaced CPS kids

* Fenger student charged with concealing a homicide

* Illinois insurers agree to cover swine flu vaccine

* Arson, assault down in Illinois crime stats

- Posted by Mike Murray        

  1. - ZC - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 9:46 am:

    There’s also an interesting FOX News story about Dorothy Brown that was published late last night, according to the website.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 10:01 am:

    Sad to see Kiddieland go. It was a real-old fashioned, reasonably priced amusement park in the neighborhood.

  3. - Downstater - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 10:04 am:

    The mayor also did not mention that new bills to +Chicago residents reflect a $65 million City Hall property tax increase passed two years ago but that’s only showing up now.+
    And those folks will march into the voting booth and vote democratic. What’s the definition of insantiy!!

  4. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 10:11 am:

    It is hard to determine whether the City of Chicago or the State of Illinois are in a more dangerous financial condition.

    In Chicago the big donors feast from the TIFF funds when crying poor mouth for police and fire. At the same time the State of Illinois continues to spend with no legitimate revenue stream in sight.

  5. - ZC - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 10:17 am:

    Not to be too easy on Daley, but police and fire alone already make up, what, like over 50% of the city budget? How high should that go?

  6. - Jack Leyhane - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 10:38 am:

    Wait — let me see if I get this: The same City Council that sells Midway Airport, the Skyway and and seventy five years of parking meter revenue without a backwards glance is going to grow a spine by refusing to approve a pay increase for cops and firemen after it is ordered by an arbitrator?

    No wonder Second City Cop is lobbying for a referendum to cut the City Council by 50% — see this post, this one, or this first one (which got noticed by Channel 2).

    And, forgive me for not knowing, but I’m not a labor lawyer — does the City Council really have a choice when labor negotiations are allowed to default to an arbitrator?

  7. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    Please note the closing of the Melrose Park Kiddieland.

    Kiddielands are Midwestern phenomena. They were made possible by the large amounts of farmland surrounding Chicago, the automobile, the family-focused era of the 1940s-1970s parents, union wages and working hours, and fast food.

    At one time, Chicagoland had about a dozen Kiddielands. They were not a chain, but a cultural phenomena during the Baby Boom era. During the 1950s, it had become popular to build children’s play areas near roadside restaurants. Like McDonaldlands today, these play areas were simply places harrassed parents took their often large families for outdoor activities, as well as for inexpensive food.

    In about a dozen of these locations, electric rides became popular, and with the growing popularity of these parks, turned into “Kiddieland”. With the growing Chicagoland suburbia, acres of former farmland with farmstands and restaurants developed into miniature roadside attractions.

    Kiddielands did not have rides for adults, normally. There was a huge market for child sized rides. These rides were more inexpensive than adult sized ones and fit the marketing agenda of these park’s original mission. Most of the rides were put into place during the 1950s and 1960s, and these rides reflected the Atomic Age and Jet Age with bright primary colors, Googie-styling, and afterburner lighting. Thanks to the park’s former function, farm animals and pony rides were usually available too.

    Families owned Kiddielands. They passed down these amusement parks to their children and grandchildren, who inherited these community-loved places. Melrose Park and Schereville were the last Kiddielands in the Chicagoland area.

    The Melrose Park Kiddieland is the last of this kind of park. What has happened has been the cost of land in the Chicago area, coupled with high property taxes and desirable road locations. It also took a lot of money and a need for acres of prime real estate made possible by big box store chains popularized over the past twenty years.

    The Melrose Park Kiddieland is become a Costco. The Schererville Indiana Kiddieland became a Wal-Mart.

  8. - Levois - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 11:09 am:

    The stories in this edition of Morning Shorts, VERY bleak. Not saying that it’s supposed to be happy hour, but it’s not optimistic at all. Especially if you live in Chicago or the suburbs. Can’t speak for downstate.

  9. - Will County Woman - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 12:30 pm:

    Mayor Daley lashes out because he is very worried about next year’s budget and his re-election chances. It will be interesting to see who is courageous, credible and well-funded enough to step up against him. He is very vulunerable going into 2011. At no other point in his mayoral history has he been this silver platter vulnerable.

  10. - steve schnorf - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 12:40 pm:

    I hate to be a wet blanket, but most Chicago homeowners should get down on their knees and give thanks for their property taxes. They are so low as to be almost unimaginable in the suburbs or downstate. Compare average selling prices against average property taxes in the various neighborhoods and you will see what I mean.

  11. - Bill - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 12:42 pm:


  12. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 12:48 pm:

    The Mayor is right to blast Hooli…..As the guy who does the assessments, he knows when the market tanks he needs to get to work….pronto…drop those assessments…very simple

  13. - Bill - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 1:10 pm:

    Now, Circki,
    You know that Little Dick is sitting on $1/2 billion in TIF funds and has packed the Chicago Public Schools with hundreds of hacks from the CTA and City Hall costing tens of millions. It is his mismanagement that causes those taxes to go up.
    Also, your boss shifting the burden from businesses to home owners didn’t help either. Neither did all those millions in appeals he won for all those business clients as a matter of fact. All Houli does is the arithmetic.
    I’m definitely not a big Houli fan but just wait Joe takes over. Hold on to your wallets taxpayers. The wolves will be in charge of the hen house.

  14. - George - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 4:38 pm:

    here’s a way to save taxpayers a few bucks-how about having 25 aldermen instead of 50.

  15. - Charlie Wheeler - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 5:33 pm:

    Point of information:

    The key factor in determining the amount of property taxes being billed is the levy, the total dollar amount of property taxes a local government unit requests. That request is then divided by the tax base, or EAV– the aggregate value for tax purposes of the taxable real property within the district’s boundaries– to determine the tax rate. The resulting tax rate is then multiplied by the EAV– equalized assessed valuation, or value for tax purposes– of each parcel of real property within the district, to determine the property taxes extended– billed– on that parcel of property.

    The assessor’s role is to determine the value for tax purposes of each parcel within the county. To the extent assessments increase or decrease on particular parcels, those parcels’ share of the overall tax burden similarly will increase or decrease. But whether the overall tax burden increases or decreases is wholly dependent upon the levy, i.e., how much a particular unit of local government requests from property taxpayers.

  16. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 28, 09 @ 6:02 pm:

    Charlie, that’s certainly true, but then we have the figure of an assessor who, through an analysis of tens of thousands of parcels, decides who pays what.

    That’s where it gets interesting. Given the breadth and nature of the task, some subjectivity will come into play. And given the intentionally mind-numbing complexity of the process, it gives rise to a very lucrative informal and formal appeals process.

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