Dear BOMA/Chicago Member:
I’m sure that you have seen and heard the press coverage of Mayor Emanuel’s proposed 2016 budget and real estate property tax increase totaling over $543 million for 2015-2018, including his push to shift much of that burden to commercial taxpayers by doubling the homeowner exemption.
I have never seen an issue with the potential for such dramatic impact on our industry in the nearly 15 years I’ve worked for BOMA/Chicago.
You know that commercial property in Cook County (and only in Cook County) is assessed at 2.5 times the rate at which single family homes and condos are assessed. Because of that, our buildings and tenants have borne far more than our fair share of the tax burden for many years. We cannot allow that to be perpetuated and made even worse. The health of our economy and the attractiveness of our city as a home for business and jobs are at stake.
I want all of you to know that we are employing every resource available to us to evaluate the Mayor’s proposals, to ensure that they are as fair to our industry as they can be. To that end, we will fight against further overburdening commercial taxpayers and tenants in whatever form the painful steps toward fiscal responsibility might take. We are utilizing our own talented staff, our lobbyists both here and in Springfield, tax counsel and researchers, and our public relations firm. Here is a summary of some of the steps we have taken so far:
Participating in Discussions with Key Policymakers
- We were invited to a private briefing by Vice Mayor Steven Koch and the city’s CFO Carol Brown on the Mayor’s budget and tax proposals, which we attended along with the Civic Committee and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
- We met with the Governor’s senior staff to further educate them about the impact of the proposed property tax increase and the dramatic and adverse effects of shifting that burden to commercial buildings and tenants by increasing the homeowner exemption.
Taking our Message to the Public
- We have developed and distributed press releases and position statements that express cautious support for the difficult steps needed to restore financial stability to the city, but also express reservations that not enough cuts have been made in expenses. Our statements always oppose any shift of the increased tax burden from homeowners to the businesses and employers that are tenants in our buildings.
- Ron Tabaczynski and I have done over 24 interviews with the press, including television interviews with Chicago Tonight and ABC Channel 7 News. We have been quoted extensively, always in a favorable business light. Head over to our BOMA/Chicago In the News page to read more.
- We met with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, which published an editorial supporting our position on these issues. I had an op-ed published in today’s Crain’s Chicago Business and we will also met last week with the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- We created an Infographic to easily explain the impact of the Mayor’s proposed property tax increase on commercial tenants – small and large businesses – throughout the city.
Making our Voice Heard in Springfield
- Ron and other industry allies testified at a subject matter hearing in Springfield last week, opposing an increase in the homeowner exemption and its attendant shift in the tax burden from residential to commercial taxpayers.
Forming a Coalition with Like-Minded Business Groups
- We took the lead in forming a coalition of like-minded business groups working together on these issues. The group includes: Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Retail Merchants Association, Illinois Manufacturers Association, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, Chicagoland Apartment Association, Illinois Restaurant Association, and others. The list is growing.
- We continue to research the economic impact of the proposed tax hikes and the proposed expansion of the homeowner exemption, including the effect of the shift in burden from residential to commercial taxpayers. It is difficult to accurately estimate the impact until we see specific proposed legislation, but we’re doing our best with assumptions.
We will soon ask all of you to reach out to the Mayor, the Aldermen, and members of the General Assembly and tell them why we think they must tread cautiously before taking dramatic steps that could jeopardize our economy. We will also ask you to request that your tenants do the same. In particular, we hope you will convey opposition to any proposal to shift this unprecedented tax increase from residential taxpayers to commercial taxpayers, whether that takes the form of an increased homeowner exemption or some other mechanism.
Look for further communications from us very soon that will provide you and your tenants with the tools to take proactive steps in shaping this outcome. As always, your voice is more important than mine in impacting these events.
Thank you for your help and support.
Executive Vice President