When Democrats completely mismanage anything there ultimate escape plan is taxes. And more taxes.Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has laid out how his proposed water and sewer tax will hit Chicagoans: It’ll start out modest, then more than quadruple by 2020.
The details came in the form of an ordinance submitted to the City Council Finance Committee, which could vote on the plan as soon as Sept. 8.
Next year, the tax would be 59 cents for every 1,000 gallons used. For the average water user, that amounts to $53.10 more a year. In 2018, the tax would jump to $1.28 per 1,000 gallons, or an extra $115.20 a year.
In year three (2019), the tax would rise to $2.01 per 1,000 gallons, or $180.90 more a year. And in year four (2020), it would be $2.51 per 1,000 gallons, which comes to $225.90 more a year.
The fine print: If water and sewer bills are not paid within 24 days, an interest charge of .25 percent per month will be added to the new tax, just as it is for the underlying water and sewer use fees, according to the ordinance.
City financial officials say the tax would bring in about $239 million a year, with all of the money dedicated to increased contributions to the city’s municipal workers’ pension fund.
But the ordinance does not specify that use. Instead, it says all the tax revenue shall be placed in the city’s operating fund “and may be used for any lawful purpose.” Molly Poppe, the city’s spokeswoman on financial issues, said that’s just standard legal language. Aldermen could be skeptical of that one, however.
As the administration said a day earlier, seniors who own single-family homes and receive a 50 percent break on their combined water and sewer bills would get that same discount on the tax. Not-for-profit groups that receive exemptions also would pay less in taxes.
The City Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus has raised questions about the plan, and in the coming days Emanuel aides plan to meet with aldermen for a second time to discuss the mayor’s proposed tax. (Hal Dardick)