Archive for the ‘Cook’ Category

Sandhill Cranes

A monogamous species, sandhill cranes mate for life. Once a pair is successful mating at a location, they will likely keep returning to that same spot. | Sandhill cranes (Antigone canadensis), Photo by: Derek Jordan

In this issue:

  • New Prescribed Fire Activity Map
  • 2024 Picnic & Special Event Permits, Camping Reservations Now Available
  • Forest Preserves’ 2024 Budget Unanimously Approved
  • Latest News: Learn Five Fun Facts About White-Tailed Deer, Congratulations to 2023 Chicago Wilderness Force of Nature Awardees, Meet Jalanni Matthews
  • Upcoming Events, and
  • Volunteer Opportunity

Read the newsletter here.

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mansion tax

After the City Council’s recent approval of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s proposal to increase the transfer tax on the sale of high-end properties, Block 37, shown in 2018, the vertical mall on State Street, went up for sale along with two other high-profile Chicago properties. Voters will weigh in on the tax proposal in March. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

By The Editorial Board | Chicago Tribune

It’s been a slow year for big real estate deals in Chicago.

Small wonder. Worries about the future of downtown, combined with the 18-month spike in interest rates, would give most owners of office buildings and even high-rise apartments pause about testing the market now for their properties.

So it’s interesting — to say the least — that in just the past few days the owners of three high-profile Chicago properties have put them on the block. These are the retail portion of Block 37, the vertical mall on State Street; the 76-story NEMA Chicago apartment tower on Roosevelt Road; and one of the biggest apartment complexes in Chicago, the Pavilion Apartments near O’Hare Airport.

It’s not that the economic future of downtown Chicago is any clearer now than it was a week ago.

The major event affecting these property owners in that time span was the City Council’s Nov. 7 approval of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s proposal to quadruple the transfer tax on the sale of properties like these. The tax hike will be put to Chicago voters in March, and if approved, likely will take effect at the beginning of 2025.

Is it a coincidence that these properties are for sale just as their owners face the likelihood of millions more in taxes if they wait? Maybe. But we doubt it.

Read more here.

Related:Chicago City Council puts ‘Mansion Tax’ on the March 2024 ballot

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(Scott Stantis/For the Chicago Tribune)

By Laura Rodríguez Presa | Chicago Tribune

Over the past five months since arriving in Chicago, Andrea Carolina Sevilla’s parents have been unable to enroll her in school even though the reason they left everything behind in their native Venezuela was for her to have access to better education.

In Venezuela, she said, she was lucky she could even attend school. Many other teenagers start working at an early age to help out their families, who often face extreme poverty.

But she did not have the same luck in the city that she once dreamed of visiting. The family went from sleeping on the floor of a police station, to a crowded shelter, to a house on the Far South Side, and then back to the floor of the police station after her stepfather Michael Castejon, 39, couldn’t afford the rent. He could not find a job that paid enough without a work permit, he said.

On Nov. 3, they set out to go back to Texas. And from there, they would go to Venezuela, the country they fled to seek asylum in the United States. They’re among the countless number of migrants who have chosen to leave Chicago in recent weeks in their search for a better life. They’re looking for warmer weather, more resources or to reunite with friends and family in other places.

One family of five left for Detroit because another migrant told them there was work there. One man went back to Texas, where he will join his cousins after trying his luck in Chicago. In the past month, at least 40 people, including Sevilla’s family, have left Chicago from the 1st District station on the Near South Side with the help of Catholic Charities of Chicago.

“The American Dream doesn’t exist anymore,” said Castejon as he laid on a blanket on the bare floor of the station the afternoon before they left. “There’s nothing here for us,” he added.

Read more here.

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Brandon Johnson

The Chicago City Council is asking voters on the March 2024 ballot to approve or reject a tax increase on the sale of $1 million properties. The move will mainly hit commercial properties, adding to Chicago’s anti-business reputation.

By Dylan Sharkey | Illinois Policy

Chicago voters will decide the fate of Mayor Brandon Johnson’s proposal to raise the real estate transfer tax on million-dollar properties. The Chicago City Council approved the referendum 32-17, and voters will have final say in March.

Currently, all Chicago real estate sales are taxed at 0.75%. The proposal would create a tiered structure based on the value of the property being sold.

What the plan does to the real-estate transfer tax

  • Lowers it to 0.60% for properties worth less than $1 million.
  • Raises it to 2% for properties worth $1 million-$1.5 million.
  • Raises it to 3% if worth more than $1.5 million.

Those in favor of the plan argue the new revenue generated from the increase will help combat homelessness with investments in affordable housing projects, which are exempt from the tax.

Opponents argue the new structure would force landlords to raise rents on tenants to cover the costs and harm the real estate markets’ post-pandemic rebound. While Johnson dubbed it a “mansion tax,” the reality is $1-million-plus commercial properties sell far more often than residential properties: 9 to 1 from April 2021 to April 2022.

Johnson’s plan has also been criticized for failing to detail how the money will be used to impact homelessness.

If approved, it would not take effect immediately. Voters would simply give the City Council permission to enact the plan, potentially in 2025.

Read more here.

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The Center Square

Residents in northern Illinois now have a way to locate where rabid bats have been found. The Cook County Department of Animal and Rabies Control created an interactive map to help raise awareness about rabies prevention.

The map shows locations where rabid bats were found this year and previous years. Nine bats have tested positive for rabies so far this year in Cook County. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 70 dogs and 250 cats contract rabies each year.

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Thank 220

(Property tax) bills showed an increase of 73% to the school districts of Park Ridge and Barrington, respectively.

By Paris Schutz | WTTW

The median homeowners in Cook County’s north and northwest suburbs saw their property tax bills rise 15.7% this year, according to a new study just released from Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas’ office.

The study concludes that it’s the largest residential property tax hike for that part of the county in 30 years. The study also shows the tax burden shifting from commercial properties to residential properties, despite Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s initial campaign promises to shift things in the other direction.

The North Shore suburbs saw modest increases in their residential property taxes, but some of the blue-collar northwest communities were socked the hardest.

Rosemont saw the largest increase at 32%, although residential properties in that community are typically rebated a large portion of that sum due to the revenue that comes from business, entertainment and convention taxes.

Read more here.

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By A.D. Quig | Chicago Tribune

After months of delay, nearly 1.8 million property tax bills for Cook County home and business owners are landing in mailboxes this week, and many homeowners in the north and northwest suburbs are in for jarring news.

new analysis from county Treasurer Maria Pappas’ research team found the median residential tax bill there increased by 15.7%, according to the report, “the largest percentage increase in the last 30 years.”

Residential properties in that part of the county are shouldering a greater share of the tax burden thanks to what one analyst termed a “perfect storm.”

Across all of Cook County’s 1.8 million parcels, taxes for 1.3 million homeowners and 94,000 commercial property owners went up, according to the report.

In the south suburbs, the median residential bill increased by 3.9% and the median commercial bill — for properties like offices, stores, warehouses and large apartment buildings — went up by 2%. In Chicago, the median homeowner’s bill went up 3%, while the commercial median bill rose only slightly more, 3.1%.

In all, property taxes across Cook County rose more than $909 million, to $17.6 billion, according to the analysis. That’s 5.4% higher than last year, but below the 8% rate of inflation for 2022.

Read more here.

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Milkweeds (Asclepias sp.) are the host plant for monarch butterflies; adult monarchs feed on the nectar of many flowers, but in this region, they lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed. | Exploding Milkweed Seed Pod, Photo by: Roberta Appleby

In this issue:

  • Major Restoration Project Completed at Powderhorn Lake
  • Find Fall Color in the Forest Preserves
  • Learn about the “Stay on the Trail” Initiative
  • Latest News: Save the Date for 2024 Picnic and Special Event Permits, Camping Reservations; Forget Your Fear, Bats are Beneficial; Consider Doing Business with the Forest Preserves; Forest Preserve Foundation Board Hosts Seed Collecting Event
  • Upcoming Events, and
  • Volunteer Opportunities

Read the newsletter here.

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A rat peeks out of a hole at a subway stop. | AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

The Center Square

For the ninth consecutive year, Chicago has been named the rattiest city in America.

Orkin has released its 2023 list of the “rattiest cities” in the U.S., which ranks 50 of the nation’s busiest metro regions by “the number of new rodent treatments” performed over a period of 12 months.

Rounding out the top five rattiest cities were Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco

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Spring Creek

Volunteers at Spring Creek Forest Preserve

By A.D. Quig | Chicago Tribune

Flush with money after voters authorized a fresh property tax hike, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle pitched next year’s Forest Preserves budget Tuesday as the start of “a new era.”

“For the first time in a long time, it is not the budget of an agency in a holding pattern, keeping long-term, pressing needs at bay,” Preckwinkle said Tuesday. “For fiscal year 2024, we are moving forward, and there is only more on the horizon for the residents and visitors of Cook County.”

Three years ago, Preckwinkle pitched a pandemic austerity budget that tapped into the forest preserves’ rainy day fund. Then-Commissioner Larry Suffredin highlighted the district’s “precarious” financial state and warned officials may have to sell off land owned by the forest preserve district to stay afloat

In the summer of 2021, Preckwinkle and the district board — whose members are the same as the Cook County Board — paved the way for county voters to say “yes” or “no” to a property tax hike that would raise money to help maintain the 70,000 acres of green lands, trails and water.

Last November, after a concerted campaign by preserves boosters, voters overwhelmingly authorized a 0.025% increase in the preserves’ property tax levy, raising an additional $40 million that officials said they would be spent on maintenance at facilities such as the Chicago Botanic Garden and Brookfield Zoo, land restoration and pension payments.

The 2024 budget is the second year with extra funding in place. This year’s budget was amended after voters approved the referendum. On Tuesday, Preckwinkle proposed an $188.7 million budget for the district in 2024, an increase of 34% from this year’s pre-referendum proposal.

Read more here.

Related:Barrington Hills Park District soliciting recommendations regarding, ‘Future development of Horizon Farm and Spring Creek’

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