The City of Chicago is looking at all options to bridge the budget deficit including some outrageous taxes including a Lake Shore Drive Tax ($2.50 per use), a Loop Rush Hour Tax ($5.00), City Income Tax (1% of Taxable Income), Doubling of Ambulance Fees (even though it was recently doubled)…the list goes on. Now I have faith that our mayor will not implement any of these taxes. For one it is political suicide, but more importantly it would drastically hurt the City of Chicago and DECREASE revenue over time.
As with any new taxes, there is always the threat that revenue will decrease as a result of those moving to avoid paying the tax. Personally, as a Realtor, I use Lake Shore Drive on a DAILY basis MULTIPLE times a day. It is how I get from my home in Edgewater (right off LSD) to my office, showings, the expressway, etc.. My schedule permitting I regularly pick up my partner from work and guess what, he works in the Loop. This means I would be subject to the $5 loop toll twice, once in the morning and once during the evening rush hour. Seeing as I live in the City of Chicago I would also be subject to the 1% income tax. At the end of the day, if all I did was drop off my partner and pick him up I would be out of the following:
$2.50 Lake Shore Drive Southbound
$5.00 Loop Tax
$2.50 Lake Shore Drive North Bound
$2.50 Lake Shore Drive Southbound
$5.00 Loop Tax
$2.50 Lake Shore Drive Northbound
Grand Total $20 PER DAY – $100 a week, $400/mo and a whopping $4,400 a YEAR (I have excluded his 4 weeks vacation).
Now of course, if these taxes were implemented he would just take the train to and from work. But so would many other people, which means we would need to increase bus service and train service. Plus Metra would be hit hard with less people driving to the city so I hope they have some trains on Standby. PACE will be hit hard as well especially in outlying areas as residents move to the suburbs to avoid the 1% tax.
As far as me getting to showings, well I would definitely have to plan a future move closer to the loop. I’m on LSD multiple times a day for work so would at least spend $20 per day when I have showings. Plus, there are a few bars and restaurants that my partner and I stop at now and then when I pick him up from work. Well I guess we won’t be making those stops anymore since I won’t be picking him up. Plus since I just spent an extra $20 on LSD because I had showings that day I wouldn’t have the extra money to spend on drinks or a bite to eat. Eating at home and drinking 2buck chuck it is.
Personally I cannot stand dealing with suburbanites in the city, they annoy the hell out of me with their driving, slow walking, etc. However THEY SPEND MONEY IN OUR CITY and provide VALUABLE VALUABLE revenue. So now a new problem exists. We have a family of 4 driving in from Naperville, Plainfield, Orland Park, Oak Lawn…where ever….they now need to spend $2.50 twice on Lake Shore Drive when they go to visit Navy Pier. Oh, they can get at a different exit? Good luck dealing with the increased traffic. We’ve just added an additional 30minutes at a minimum onto their commute. I guess that is 30minutes less, each way, they have in the city. Which means less chance of spending money and less enjoyment per minute of travel it took them to get to the city. Maybe next time they will just stay in the burbs. Well, if this happens, coupled with those taking Metra we will have less people parking downtown. This means less city revenue (in form of taxes) for parking garage and less people parking at Meters. While the city doesn’t get revenue from the meters any longer, they do get ticket revenue from expired meters. I guess that will go down too.
Now lets talk a little about life in the city. One of my favorite things about the city is Lake Shore Drive. Nothing beats driving down LSD on a beautiful sunny day with the windows down, music on, enjoying the city skyline. I guess now, that would come at a price. And Yes, there is traffic in the loop during rush hour and yes cities like London do have a rush hour tax, but the traffic downtown in the loop during rush hour IS NOTHING in comparison with other major cities such as LA, NYC, London, Tokyo, etc. So we CANNOT use these cities as examples of places that started charging a rush hour tax. Plus, we also cannot use other cities plans as a SOLE JUSTIFICATION for us raising taxes. If other cities started charging only minorities an income tax would we do that? Hell No. If other cities starting asking their citizens to jump off buildings would we do that? Hell No. So lets not use the “Oh well that city does it so we can too” justification for implementing these RIDICULOUS taxes.
At the end of the day we have a budget deficit. We need to make cuts and increase revenue. So what we do is simple. Areas of tax that are very cheap, we can look at raising. For instance Water/Sewer is low, on a national average it is low, and the cost for these services is increasing as the system needs to be updated, expanded constantly, etc. This is something we can raise a little, with in reason. But as the old saying goes, “You catch more bees with honey than you do vinegar” we need to look at increasing revenue by increasing business in Chicago, increasing tourism, etc. We need to tell the unions at McCormick Place to go shove it so we can lower the cost to hold a convention. Therefore we will see more conventions, more people spending money while they’re here, more tax dollars, the list goes on.
We live in an AMAZING City. I am proud to say we have a mayor that is starting to make the necessary cuts and I feel comfortable knowing that none of these ridiculous taxes will be implemented because our Mayor has a head on his shoulders. As far as the Inspector General is concerned, these ideas are a waste of time.