Emanuel proposes property tax hike to help fund pensions - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Emanuel proposes property tax hike to help fund pensions

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to raise property taxes in Chicago to cover about half the city's pension obligations, increasing the amount of money city workers contribute to their retirement.

The proposal comes nearly one month after Cook County property taxes were due.

Pension reform legislation will mean increased taxes and reduced retirement benefits, which no one likes to hear about. But the city has to do something to fund them. Mayor Emanuel's plan divides that burden between Chicago's homeowners and civil servants.

The proposal increases property taxes by about $250 million over five years - raising taxes about $50 a year for the average homeowner.

The mayor has been warning about the city's pension obligations, negotiating with some unions to get employees to contribute more. White collar and building trade unions would pay 11 percent, up from the current 8.5 percent.

Although he doesn't need unions to sign off on the agreement, officials say he has support from some labor groups.

Here's how the mayor's office says it would affect individuals:

Homeowners would take a hit. A homeowner with a house valued at $250,000 would pay $50-$58 more starting next year. That's $250-$290 over five years.

City employees would pay more into their pensions. A city worker making about $60,000 a year would have to increase contributions by 2.5 percent. The worker would put in $1,500 by 2019. Cost of living increases would be reduced.

Fire, police and teachers unions are not addressed in the mayor's plan.

The proposal will be presented to Illinois lawmakers in Springfield and must be approved by the General Assembly.

Chicago's pension crisis and the mayor's new plan could have an impact on the race for mayor in 2015. If early numbers mean anything, Emanuel could have a tough road ahead.

A new poll by the Illinois Observer found 40 percent of people surveyed said they would vote for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle if she ran for mayor next year.

About 28 percent of voters said they would be undecided in the matchup.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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