By: Mark Glennon*


Thank goodness for private sector organizations that crunch the real numbers about what’s going on with Illinois’ economy. The Civic Federation recently published some invaluable reports.


First, their report on true property tax rates for Chicago and its surrounding areas finally publicized what property owners already know — that rates in many communities have reached death spiral levels, and most of the rest of the area is headed in the same direction. Our article about that study is linked here. We received a few heart wrenching emails from homeowners who saw it and who are among the victims. One said he cannot even do a short sale on his home — nobody will buy it because of the taxes on it.


Second, their report on the trend of Chicago unfunded pension liabilities showed that they’ve spiked threefold to $37 billion since 2003, and they continue to grow. Keep that in mind when you hear Chicago claim its budget is balanced. Growth in unfunded pension liabilities is not included in government budgets or financial reporting, an omission that is criminal in the private sector.


Their third report deserving special recognition was actually published in August and went unnoticed. It estimated the total value of all homes in the Chicago area. This week, we used their report to try to get at the total penalty Illinois homeowners have lost out on because of the under performance of home prices here compared to national averages. Our story is linked here, and we think it’s a big issue that continues to be overlooked. Chicago homeowners alone have forfeited $39 billion in home values over the last ten years, probably much more, and the total for the state likely is in the hundreds of billions. The negative wealth effect of that on our economy is staggering.


The Civic Federation’s reports are usually published in a pretty dispassionate way so their significance is often not picked up in stories for the general public. We try to translate information like theirs into concise articles the public will understand, and we deeply appreciate work by them and similar organizations.


*Mark Glennon is founder of WirePoints


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6 years ago

Let’s identify the reports and those reporting on them. 1. Civic Federation Estimated Effective Property Tax Rates 2003-2012: Selected Municipalities in Northeastern Illinois. September 29, 2014. 12 pages. Crain’s Chicago Business Greg Hinz on Politics ‘Real’ Chicago home property taxes climb 50 percent — in five years October 01, 2014 2. Civic Federation Status of Local Pension Funding Fiscal Year 2012: An Evaluation of Ten Local Government Employee Pension Funds in Cook County. October 2, 2014. 88 pages. The Bond Buyer Unfunded Liabilities Mount for Chicago Area Pension Funds by Yvette Shields OCT 2, 2014 3. Civic Federation.… Read more »