Chicago is well on it’s way to megacity as it continues to grow as a diverse community. That sounds wonderful for those that live here, everyone loves new neighbors. We have some of the best theater, museums and even a free zoo right at our disposal. But these amenities are about to cost hard working Middle-Class families just a bit more. A coalition of Chicago labor unions would like to implement a city income tax which only taxes those making $100,000 or more an illustrious 3.5%. Sounds great right? Tax the rich and feed the poor. Well, not when you discover that the city has a very high cost of living in which $100,000 is still mostly based on survival costs like $1500-$2100 a month rent, one of the highest utility bills for the Midwest and home buyers must beware of their rising property taxes. Chicago can continue to flourish like other cities by using a diverse revenue system that doesn’t eat the so-called rich such as a lower percentage earners tax, commuter tax and even re-instituting eminent domain on city property
Kansas City Here We Come
Kansas City, Missouri may have some of the best barbeque but their tax system is even better. They instituted an Earners Tax– a 1% tax on all earnings for all workers of the city. It’s ingenious since free riders, those that only work in the city, must pay. They solved a great problem for big cities like the millions spent on police, traffic control, roads and more by making all workers a part of the solution to maintenance. The low tax does not deter people from working there either. This could be implemented in Chicago allowing people to all feel they are a part of making the city great while not detering businesses to head to the burbs. Yes, Chicago is becoming a home to major corporation headquarters bringing millions back to where the buck starts. As the economy grows so should direct revenue from its expansion.
The Free Ride is Over
Recently, there was an uproar in the 14 person mayoral race when one candidate mentioned a commuter tax. What a genuinely wonderful surprise to hear that Chicagoans shouldn’t be the only ones on the hook for maintaining this fair city. Chicago has over 600,000 people that commute on its roads, electric rail “L” and buses everyday. A commuter tax could create $3 million in revenue based on a simple $50 dollar a year fee. It could create around $30 million with a 3.5% tax instead of residents footing the bill. This type of tax eliminates costs to businesses as well that would be hampered by bureaucratically congested Head Taxes. Cities across America are instituting protective legislation and tax systems to maintain the fair share of expansion and maintenance. It’s time cities begin to find revenue outside of overtaxed residents.
We the Residents Must Speak
Eminent domain is a strange character. It can be a residents best friend or worse enemy. The convoluted system of eminent domain can work for or against a government as well. Residents of any city should review the sales agreements when exchanging their city property to private businesses. The parking meter agreement in Chicago is still a wound. As fees increased tenfold a private company has reaped millions in benefits that could have been direct revenue for the city. Privatization of services across America redirect money outside of city limits-up to $1 trillion of government money goes to private firms. Maybe it’s time an eminent domain referendum be held to let voters decide if they want to end the meter lease and take back their revenue.
Expand Options Through People, Not Taxes
Cities have legal options to ensure economic prosperity. They can enforce all private firms employees be residents of that particular city. In places like Englewood, Chicago, they could use new residents. A new breath of life into many areas of any city is needed. New residents and buildings generate higher property tax income alleviating residents of over taxation in every other area of city life. Density produces business growth allowing neighborhoods to re-flourish. Sin taxes are a favorite. A sugary beverage tax creates amazing revenue while enhancing the health of a city. Cook County Chicago tried it but it’s implementation can be changed for success. Instead of taxing broker transactions as promoted by the same Chicago union coalition, let’s try a tax on any gambling proceedings that people win in Chicago. We are the capital of Illinois’s lottery purchases, as are most cities. Our new mayor could create a law directing a percentage of all lottery sales in the city goes directly to fund the Chicago schools. Options and opportunities are unlimited for creating revenue in cities without hurting residents.