Chicago homeowners can expect 10 percent hike in property-tax bills

For the second year in a row, the property-tax man is about to dig deeper into Chicagoans wallets.

On average, Chicago homeowners can expect a 10 percent increase — about $360 — when the second installment of their property tax bills arrive later this month, according to a new report from Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office.

It’s the second straight year of double-digit increases prompted in part by tax hikes approved in 2015 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council. Those increases, for pensions and school construction, sparked last year’s bills to increase nearly 13 percent on average.

Residential property owners aren’t alone. Commercial property taxes in Chicago will rise by 9.3 percent on average this year — more than $1,100. Last year, that increase was about 10 percent.

Orr’s office said the increases this year have been sparked by the Chicago Board and Education and city government needing more money from taxpayers to pay police, firefighter and teacher pensions.

“The City of Chicago increased its levy by $109 million this year as part of a planned four-year property tax increase which began last year,” Orr’s tax report said. “Additionally, the State Legislature approved a $272 million [Chicago Public Schools] levy increase to pay for teachers’ pensions which took effect this year.”

Molly Poppe, a spokeswoman for the city’s Office of Budget and Management, said the city property-tax increase amounted to “a better choice” than cutting city services to preserve workers’ retirements.

“We have worked hard to eliminate the bad financial practices of the past and secure the retirements of tens of thousands of teachers, police officers, and firefighters,” she said in a statement. “Raising taxes is never our first choice.”

The property-tax increases for homeowners in the Cook County suburbs won’t be as stiff.

Homeowners in north suburban Cook County will see their property taxes go up 6.5 percent on average, about $432. Their south suburban counterparts will see a 3.9 percent increase, about $192, according to the clerk’s Office.

The good news for Chicago homeowners is that the city’s industrial and commercial tax base makes for lower bills than their suburban counterparts with similarly priced homes. The bill for a home with a market value of $200,000 on average will total $3,506 in Chicago, $4,545 in the north suburbs and $6,567 in the south suburbs.

Tax bills are due Aug. 1. The change in individual homeowners’ bills may vary widely, depending on how the value of your property is assessed in comparison to other homes.

For Chicago residents, the change in tax bills was estimated based on an average single-family residence with a market value of $224,500, Orr’s office wrote.

In the north suburbs — where properties were reassessed for the first time since 2015 — the estimated increase was based on an average home worth $299,100. The south suburbs’ model was a home worth $163,000.

Property taxes have taken a central role in the early stages of the Illinois governor’s race as lawmakers debate hiking the state’s income-tax rate.

Last week, Gov. Bruce Rauner bemoaned property tax rates in Illinois as a prime hindrance to economic growth.

“We’re not competitive, and as a result, our tax base erodes and we don’t have enough in tax revenue to support a balanced budget and to fund our schools and human services,” Rauner said. “We’ve got to become competitive so we can afford to be compassionate.”