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Chamber@Work Newsletter

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

From the President’s Desk: The Tipping Point for Business – It All Adds Up

Chicago’s record high property tax bills hit mailboxes August 1 with a 13 percent average increase for homeowners.  Some bills are much, much higher due to the double impact of the new property tax increase with the triennial property reassessment, which resulted in Chicago’s biggest jump in property values since the Great Recession.

Chicago businesses – many as business property owners anchoring their Chicago neighborhoods – are taking a disproportionate hit with the new property tax increase because Cook County’s archaic and unfair classification system assesses commercial and industrial properties at 2.5 times their residential counterparts.  This makes the increased property tax on businesses even more challenging.  Neighborhood-based businesses are particularly vulnerable.

As it turns out, this property tax increase is just the beginning.  At $588 million, it is the largest property tax increase in Chicago’s history and will phase in over four years.  It is dedicated to pension fund payments for policemen and firefighters, and for school construction.

Later this month, the Chicago Board of Education will vote to increase property taxes by $250 million to pay directly into the Chicago Teacher’s Pension Fund with a dedicated tax levy.  This increase is part of a package of school funding passed with the state six-month stop gap budget.

Last week, Mayor Emanuel announced new water and sewer fees totaling $239 million by 2020 and 2021 to pay for the municipal employees’ pension.  New and dedicated revenues to properly fund the City’s long-standing and neglected pension obligations are the only real option remaining in the City’s arsenal to fix its fiscal challenges built up over decades.   But there is a tipping point for Chicago businesses – and we may be quickly reaching it.

The Chamber recognizes that viable, long-term fiscal solutions for the City will include cuts, new revenues, and economic reforms.  But we are alarmed by the compounding effect of the multitude of new regulations in addition to new taxes and fees Chicago businesses now face, including: Chicago-only minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances; the re-increased Cook County sales tax, a plastic bag ban, and an increased County hotel tax  – all of which our government affairs team opposed and fought hard to stop or to minimize the impact.  And it doesn’t look to be over as the City ($138 million) and County ($174 million) each project budget gaps for fiscal year 2017 that may again require new taxes and fees.

The cumulative impact of higher taxes and new regulations, rolled out one-after-another over a 2-year period of time, disrupts business growth and job creation.  We are at the point when business owners are questioning if they can afford to start and operate a business in Chicago.  Neighborhood-based business owners are the backbone of Chicagoland’s economic engine.  We are asking too much of them to absorb these cumulative costs.

Now more than ever, the Chamber will question tax and regulatory proposals at the city, county and state level while forcefully advocating for smart, pro-business policies that encourage economic growth and new jobs.  The business community has always been a partner in ensuring Chicago remains a world-class city, but cannot be asked to shoulder costly mandates, while simultaneously being asked to pay a disproportionate share of the property tax burden. We are at a tipping point.

Sincerely,

Theresa E. Mintle
President & CEO
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce



Annual CITCA Summer Reception

Mingle with trade commissioners and foreign diplomats from more than 40 countries, learn about global growth opportunities, and experience a breathtaking Chicago skyline from 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile on August 23.

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Hit the Links at Conway Farms

Enjoy a beautiful day of golf with the Chamber at our 2016 Annual Corporate Golf Outing on September 19 at Conway Farms, the Tom Fazio award-winning course which sits on 209 acres in Lake Forest.

Last year, we celebrated after two golfers nailed a hole in one during the event. Will history repeat itself? Join us and take your best shot!

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Conway Farms Golf Course photographed in June 2015. ┬ęCharles Cherney Photography

The New Age of Digital Marketing

Learn from senior leadership at McDonald’s and Google about the latest tech tools and best practices designed to refresh digital marketing efforts and connect with new audiences on September 22.

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Mobile Payments Conference
August 29-31

MPC will shine a spotlight on mobile payment services, familiarizing business owners and retailers with the changing technology, while helping businesses develop strategies to adopt and align with this growing industry.

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Networking Events


August 17 | Breakfast Club at Oakwood Worldwide August 30 | Chicago Cubs Outing September 14 | Business After Business Networking at Pinstripes
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Make new connections at Oakwood Worldwide, the world's leading provider of furnished and serviced corporate apartments and residences. Enjoy pre-game food, drinks, and networking at Murphy’s Bleachers and one ticket to watch the Chicago Cubs take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Act fast, only a few tickets are left! Network with some of Chicago's top professionals, sample Italian-American cuisine and play a round of bocce at Pinstripes.


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Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
The Wrigley Building, 410 North Michigan Ave, Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: (312) 494 6700
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