2015 Year in Review on Civic Federation Blog

December 30, 2015

The following are the five most read posts presented by the Civic Federation blog in 2015. These posts examine a number of closely followed local government issues, ranging from City and County taxes to Chicago pension debt.


Where Do Your Property Taxes Go?
April 7, 2015

This blog post outlines how property taxes are distributed by describing how property tax dollars were proposed to be spent in FY2015 by the three largest governments in northeastern Illinois: the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and Cook County. Graphics in this post show a breakdown of how property tax revenues were proposed to be dispersed for each government’s purposes. Chicago Public Schools projected the highest property tax revenues with totals expected to be nearly $2.2 billion for FY2015.


Cook County Increases Its Sales Tax by One Percentage Point
July 17, 2015

This blog post analyzed the possible effects of raising Cook County’s sales tax by one percentage point on January 1, 2016 in order to help pay the County’s $6.5 billion pension obligations. Following this increase, the City of Chicago will have the highest sales tax rate of any major municipality in the country. The Civic Federation did not support this increase because it was not tied to the budget. The Cook County sales tax has had a history of negative impacts on areas bordering collar counties, and the one percentage point increase will burden Chicago taxpayers with the highest aggregate sales tax in the nation.


Cook County Updates Building Codes in Unincorporated Areas
January 21, 2015

This blog post examined barriers related to annexing unincorporated areas of Cook County, including Cook County building regulations and lack of code enforcement in unincorporated areas. The Cook County Board of Commissioners took a step toward reducing barriers to incorporation when they adopted Ordinance 14-5599, which governs building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing regulations regarding the construction and renovation of buildings in the unincorporated areas of Cook County. Included in this post are additional recommendations from the Civic Federation.


Chicago Police and Fire Employer Pension Funding Changes Passed in Illinois General Assembly
June 5, 2015

This blog post discusses proposed changes under Senate Bill 777, which lays out five years of steadily increasing payments to the City of Chicago’s public safety pension funds. After passing both houses of the Illinois General Assembly, SB777 has not yet been released for review by Governor Rauner. As part of the discussion, the post provides a history of Public Act 96-1495, which was signed in 2010 and created a new tier of pension benefits for public safety employees, including police and firefighters hired on or after January 1, 2011.


The Final 2014 Cook County Equalization Factor is 2.7253
September 9, 2015

This blog post notes that the final equalization factor for tax year 2014 in Cook County is 2.7253 and describes how that number is calculated and what it means. As discussed in the post, equalization is necessary for the fair implementation of certain State statutes. Assessed valuation of property is a component in formulas for various education, transportation and public assistance grants to local jurisdictions, so it is important that assessed values be made equivalent statewide.