Lightfoot announces $42.7M property tax increase

Mayor won’t collect full $85.5M owed under inflation-tied policy

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Illustration by The Real Deal with Getty Images)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot won’t be increasing property taxes by as much as she could have.

On Wednesday, Lightfoot announced the smallest budget shortfall since her time in office and said the city will only increase property taxes by $42.7 million, instead of the $85.5 million increase her inflation-tied property tax formula could have required, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“As a result of our hard work over the past three and a half years and despite a global pandemic, the resulting economic meltdown, and related loss of revenue, we persevered, stayed true to our values and have cleared the city’s budget of decades of deferred liabilities,” Lightfoot said. “In other words, we are now living within our means and have started on the true road to financial stability and recovery.”

While Lightfoot is celebrating the relatively small budget shortfall, Chicago has forecast about a $475 million shortfall in the city’s corporate fund in 2024 and a more-than $550 million shortfall in 2025.

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Politicians generally try to avoid any significant tax hikes during election years. Lightfoot’s 2023 spending plan was likely created in an effort to avoid upsetting Chicago’s residents ahead of the February mayoral race.

“When all is said and done, a homeowner with a $250,000 home will pay $34 in one year,” Lightfoot said during the announcement. “That’s about the price of Al’s Italian beef sandwiches — hot, dipped and with extra cheese — for a family of four.”

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 the better part 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.

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Higher property taxes narrow Chicago city deficit by more than $500M

— Victoria Pruitt