City Colleges eye tax hike

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Education reporter
  • November 05, 2008 @ 5:09 PM

Property taxes could be going up slightly for many residents in the city once the board of trustees for the City Colleges of Chicago votes on a proposed tax  increase at its meeting tomorrow morning.

The new property tax rate of $2.05 per $100,000 assessed value will bring in $125.5 million for the city colleges this year, Finance Director Ken Gotsch says.

That’s about 10 cents higher per $100,000 in assessed value than last year’s levy, Gotsch estimates.

The colleges need the increased taxes for several reasons, he says.

“We’ve lost state money, we didn’t have the tuition increase and we’ve got the rising enrollment,” he says. Enrollment is up about 5 percent compared to last year, and the district is also dealing with rising costs for everything from health care to utilities.

Separately, the district will get an extra $1.7 million this year in new property taxes from tax increment financing districts that are expiring. Previously, that money had been shunted toward other projects by the city. In future years, the district will get about $3.4 million from those property taxes, money that will go to help with a large deferred maintenance backlog at many campuses.

Still, Gotsch says, the increase property tax levy and the money freed up from TIF districts won’t do anything to address the budget shortfalls his office expects at the district over the next four years.

While a comprehensive plan to combat those shortfalls isn’t complete, one part of it will be higher property taxes.

“One part of the solution will be increasing taxes up the rate of inflation,” Gotsch says.

Residents will have a chance to comment on the proposed increase at the start of the board of trustees’ meeting Thursday morning. According to the agenda, the board is slated to vote on the property tax increase later in that same meeting.

The meeting beings at 9 a.m. Room 300, 226 W. Jackson St.

Peter Sachs is a Chicago-based journalist. He covers higher education for the Daily News.