By Mark Wachtler
September 28, 2015. Chicago (ONN) The leader of the Chicago City Council’s Progressive Caucus penned an op-ed in the Chicago Sun Times to offer the political opposition’s response to Mayor Emanuel’s 2016 proposed budget. At issue are a host of new or increased fees, as well as a record property tax increase. Alderman Scott Waguespack, leader of Chicago’s reform movement, insists those new taxes and fees are disproportionately targeted at the working poor and middle class.
Chicago 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack.
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Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled his proposed 2016 budget to the city. It included a $588 million property tax increase and a new $9.50 per month fee for garbage collection. The additional revenue will go directly in the pockets of government retirees. According to multiple sources, the new taxes will go into the Chicago Police and Chicago Firefighter pension funds.
Critics on the right argue that the city’s municipal pension funds are crippled by corruption such as double and triple-dippers and countless pension recipients who never worked for the city. Critics on the left criticized Emanuel’s tax increases saying they unjustly target working class and middle class homeowners and small businesses. At the same time, wealthy building owners with political and financial ties to the Chicago Democratic Machine routinely win unjustifiable reductions in their property tax assessments.
Alderman Waguespack responds
“The Emanuel administration’s proposed 2016 budget again fails to square up to the needs and reality of the financial situation we are in,” 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack began his editorial in the Chicago Sun Times, “Yes, the city’s fiscal crisis is real. Unfortunately, the solutions the mayor proposes - including a new garbage collection fee and a huge projected property tax increase - rely on taxes that will most heavily burden the working poor and middle class as well as small businesses.”
Criticizing Emanuel’s budget, the leader of the City Council Progressive Caucus said, “The mayor’s plan offers little to correct the imbalance which allows the ultra-wealthy and the giant corporate interests to reap huge rewards from doing business in our city, without paying their fair share. The onus for generating new revenue remains on the backs of the people who can least afford it.”
Waguespack also touched on the wealthy political class and large corporations winning reduced tax levies by hiring law firms owned by powerful Chicago politicians to represent them in their appeals to the tax Assessor. “Many of the most valuable properties downtown win reduced assessments that create an unfair playing field for all property owners, letting other Chicagoans take it on the chin,” he explained, “It’s not fair by any standard and it is a practice that once ended would help balance our tax levy and budgets.”
The popular Chicago Alderman went on to stick up for taxi cab drivers and owners by criticizing a plan to let ride-sharing companies like the one owned by Mayor Emanuel’s brother to expand services into valuable city attractions like McCormick Place. He also spoke against privatizing city services like the 311 information system and janitorial services.
Waguespack concluded his remarks saying, “The Progressive Caucus, the city inspector general and many citizens provided revenue options that are fair and rational ways to generate the revenue to which our city is entitled. Let’s adopt these reforms and work together to change Chicago’s pathway to a strong fiscal future.”
Read the full op-ed by Chicago’s 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack at Chicago.Suntimes.com.
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