Alderman Reilly calls for repeal of Lightfoot’s inflation-linked tax hike

Accelerating prices could lead to tax increase of $86M in Chicago

From left: Alderman Brendan Reilly and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Getty)
From left: Alderman Brendan Reilly and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Getty)

A Chicago alderman is trying to undo Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s policy of tying property taxes to inflation.

Downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly introduced an ordinance calling for it to be repealed, the Chicago Tribune reported. If she follows up, it could almost quadruple taxes to $85.5 million next year.

Reilly, who represents the Loop, the Magnificent Mile and River North, was among 21 aldermen who voted against the policy in 2021, partly reflecting his district’s big commercial properties and high-priced homes.

“As opponents like me pointed out when this was debated, even the Mayor’s five percent cap ‘guardrail’ would still result in a massive property tax increase at a time residents and small businesses are struggling to pay their bills,” Reilly said in a statement. “Contrary to the Administration’s earlier assertions, it turns out CPI is, in fact, anything but predictable these days.”

The new ordinance calls for Lightfoot’s policy, which automatically raises the city’s tax levy by the rate of inflation, with a 5 percent maximum cap, to be “repealed in its entirety.”

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Reilly’s ordinance doesn’t have much support, however, as only nine other aldermen sponsored it. It still must go before the council’s Finance Committee and will need a majority of the 34-person committee or the 50-person council’s approval to move forward.

Two years ago, when Lightfoot first introduced the policy, it was presented as a way to keep property taxes more stable, since the rate of inflation had hovered around 3 percent for most of the past 20 years. The 2022 property tax increased by $22.9 million after the inflation rate rose to 1.4 percent between December 2019 and December 2020.

This year, the rate hit 7 percent. Lightfoot will ultimately decide how much to collect.

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Lightfoot’s inflation-linked property tax plan could quadruple payments

— Victoria Pruitt