By Ron Tabaczynski, BOMA/Chicago Director of Government Relations
One voice in a loud, crowded room can easily be ignored. Its words and opinions can cease to be heard amongst the various other voices vying for attention. But the voice of a collective group speaks volumes and can change the overall course and focus of the room’s agenda.
We are that collective voice, and those of us at BOMA/Chicago welcome the responsibility of using our voice to advocate on our membership’s behalf. Most recently, we achieved a marquee win for our members by defeating the proposed expansion of SSA #1 and the tax increase that would have accompanied it.
As you know, property taxes have been top-of-mind for all of us due to the Chicago Loop Alliance’s proposed renewal and expansion of the State Street SSA. If you had the chance to read BOMA/Chicago executive vice president Michael Cornicelli’s blog post last month, you’ll know that the CLA’s proposal was not something we could get behind. Not only was the CLA asking for an early extension of its term for another 15 years, but also to subject the buildings within the expanded boundaries to an additional property tax levy to fund the SSA that would increase their annual property bills by five percent for 15 years.
We knew this wasn’t in the best interest of our member buildings or the city of Chicago. And we weren’t alone. Many BOMA/Chicago members within the proposed expansion area contributed to our collective message – that the CLA’s proposal is not something we want, need or can afford – and we did what we do best: drew a line in the sand and took a stand against the proposal on behalf of our members.
Our proactive efforts were aggressive, yet strategic. From contacting members to actively and continuously engaging with elected officials, we relentlessly took action to ensure all the facts of the CLA’s proposal were easily accessible to those who would be affected or could potentially influence the outcome.
We also took to the press. Since the initial public hearing in May, we spoke with key trade publications and top-tier Chicago media outlets to ensure our voice was heard and our campaign against this proposal sustained momentum.
The constant pressure we applied worked when, earlier this month, articles in both Crain’s Chicago Business and the Chicago Tribune broke news that the CLA had nixed its expansion plans. It was a monumental achievement for us, but we kept our foot on the gas with the press. The resulting article from a discussion between Michael Cornicelli and the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board couldn’t have been more favorable for BOMA/Chicago. Not only did it support the CLA abandoning the proposed expansion, but it brought into question the need for renewing the SSA altogether. Now that is something we could get behind.
The collective voice that comprises our organization rose to defeat the expansion of SSA #1, but our work doesn’t stop with a key ‘W’. Our efforts with the City, the CLA and other influencers will continue in order to protect the interests of Chicago’s commercial buildings and maintain a viable, competitive business environment for years to come.
How has BOMA/Chicago’s advocacy work affected your building? Please leave us a message below.