121 Report – CRMA – August 2015

A BUDGET STALEMATE BRINGS TAXES
…AND MORE TAXES

As the state continues to operate without a budget, Illinois residents and business owners are starting to feel the very real effects of the stalemate.

 

Every week, it seems as if some important constituency will have their funding cut or that bills will not be paid.  Whether it’s federal pass-through funding to help the poor and elderly maintain access to groceries and prepared meals, employee salaries or child care subsidies for low-income families, everything has been in jeopardy at some point.  And while the General Assembly has been in session every week since May 31st (the date by which session was originally scheduled to end) very few bills have passed, including the City of Chicago’s and Cook County’s pension reform bills.

 The financial position of both local jurisdictions has had, and will continue to have, consequences for taxpayers.  While the pension reform bills will help ease some of their burden, both units of government have deficits that exceed the reach of their legislative initiatives.  Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle used the legislature’s inaction on her pension bill as an opportunity to pass a sales tax increase. This increase will give the city of Chicago the highest sales tax in the country starting January 1, 2016.  After the tax increase was pushed through within two weeks of the measure being introduced, It was later revealed that President Preckwinkle plans to use over $100 million of that cash infusion to raise the salaries of county employees by as much as 6% in some cases.  This bombshell has left the local and national businesses near the border of the county feeling increasingly unwelcome.  Further salting the wound, it is questionable that the additional revenue could be used for pensions at all.  There is a school of thought that the General Assembly would have to approve the additional revenue for the pension payment which President Preckwinkle’s office has not totally denied.  It is very possible that all of the revenue could be used for purposes other than making pension payments.  This is why the Cook County Board could have, and should have, waited before taking the vote.  There are more questions than answers right now and the uncertainty will have a negative impact business and sales tax revenue.

 

While the retail and restaurant community prepares for that tax to go into effect, we are not out of the weeds yet.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s budget address is set to be delivered in mid-September.  If you believe the media reports, that address is likely to include a property tax increase.  A recent lower court decision rejected the city’s attempt to decrease a current pension benefit in exchange for lower-cost, city-funded employee retirement plans.  The city will appeal this decision, but considering that the Illinois Supreme Court just overturned the state’s similar pension reform bill, there is not much hope that the city will prevail.  Add to that current proposed budget from the Chicago Public Schools that cuts spending by $200 million, relies on over $400 million in state aid (that may never come) and lays off over 400 teachers.  If the school system fails to receive the money it is budgeting for from the state, its new chief, Forrest Claypool,  has not yet said what he would do to balance the budget (cue the higher property taxes).

 

While so much discussion regarding the possibility of higher property taxes centers on Chicago’s homeowners, we should note that the business community pays a larger and disproportionate share of property taxes.  It’s probably no surprise to members that the Cook County property tax system is structured differently from every other county in the state.  Rates are assessed at 10% of market value for residential and 25% for commercial.  Therefore, commercial properties carry more of the property tax burden.   Instead of addressing this system that no doubt has a negative impact on commercial development in the county, the discussion always seems to turn to increasing taxes.

 

 There’s no time like the present budget disaster at the state, county and city levels to change the way we think about who we tax, how we tax and why. Cook County would do well to reevaluate its property tax system that keeps residential rates artificially low and commercial rates higher than surrounding counties.  If we want to help the local economy, increased development and job growth is the way to go.  We should change the conversation from increasing property taxes to building the tax base.  There are many ways to stimulate the economy, get people working and grow revenue to local units of government.  Our broken property tax system should be fixed before taxpayers are again asked for more money.

 

CITY COUNCIL ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS

INTRODUCTIONS

Sponsor:  Alderman Proco Joe Moreno (1st Ward)
Committee on Health and Environmental Protection
This proposal would amend the recently enacted plastic t-shirt bag ban by prohibiting retailers from offering compostable bags to customers.  The city of Chicago does not have any commercial composing facilities, and since these bags cannot be recycled, they would all end up in the landfill.  It is not clear how many retailers are actually offering such bags since the cost of doing so is often prohibitive.
 

 

CRMA will continue to push for the ordinance to be amended to replace a ban with a fee on all single-use bags.  The latter option preserves customer choice while employing a proven method for actually changing consumer behavior.  If a customer doesn’t want to pay for bags, then the customer will start bringing their own bags.  The use of plastic bags has decreased dramatically with this model and customers in Washington DC and other cities along the west coast that have gone to a bag fee model have developed the habit of bringing their own bags.
 
Sponsor:  Alderman George Cardenas (12th Ward)
Committee on Health and Environmental Protection
For the past several years legislation has been proposed in the General Assembly to tax sugar-sweetened beverages.  The initiative, led by members of the medical and various health-related non-profit communities, was an attempt to address obesity in communities of color and the chronic illnesses that are tied to it.  The HEAL Act, as it’s known in Springfield, has received hearings in both the House and Senate but has failed to garner enough votes for passage.  We have seen this trend before.  When the advocates fail to get their bill passed in the state legislature, they bring their fight to the city.  But sometimes a bad bill is just a bad bill no matter where it travels.  This fight should stay in the state legislature where it belongs.

 
Interestingly enough, the city of Chicago is the only city in the state that has had an additional tax on soft drinks for over 20 years.  This 3% tax is paid by the consumer to the retailer who then remits the tax to the city.  Yet, the tax has not helped shrink waistlines nor has it reduced the incidence of chronic illness among children or adults in black and Latino communities.  Maintaining a healthy weight is much more complicated than taxing individual products.  It requires a commitment to changing a person’s lifestyle:  what a person eats, drinks, how often they eat, portion size and regular physical activity all play an active role in keeping a person’s weight under control.

 

There is no silver bullet to weight loss.  This tax would just shift sales of the product across the border.  Meanwhile, like the current soft drink tax, it won’t make a dent in tackling obesity and it will hurt grocers near the border of the city.  Members should note that Ald. Cardenas was also the author of Chicago’s current bottled water tax and co-sponsor of the plastic t-shirt bag ban.

 

Sponsors:  Aldermen Tom Tunney (44th Ward) and Michele Smith (43rd Ward)
Committee on License and Consumer Protection
This proposal would establish a pilot program to extend sidewalk cafes into a protected area of the street.  Sidewalk cafes are an important additional revenue source for Chicago restaurants. In some of the most congested areas of the city, it is difficult to establish a sufficient area for outside eating due to narrow sidewalks.  Therefore, Aldermen Tunney and Smith are seeking to have a pilot program for the 2016 sidewalk café season where restaurants could extend the outside seating without unduly interfering with pedestrian or vehicular traffic and parking.

 

The idea would be a great addition to neighborhood retail and hospitality centers by allowing restaurants to expand their square footage and giving residents an opportunity to spend more time outside in the short Chicago summers.  It also will give restaurant employees more opportunities to earn more money due to the additional patrons.  The pilot program is a win for employers, their employees and commercial corridors.  We support it.

 

Sponsors:  Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Aldermen Daniel Solis (25th Ward), James Cappleman (46th Ward) and others
Committee on Zoning, Landmarks and Building Standards
As the city’s transportation authority has spent millions of dollars in recent years modernizing many of the “el” stations, it has become important to turn these areas into bustling retail and residential meccas.  To that end, Mayor Emanuel introduced this proposal to loosen some of the parking requirements and increase incentives for providing affordable units and mixed-use development near these transportation hubs.

TanyaTricheContact Information

Tanya Triche
Vice President & General Counsel

312/726-4600

Opinion: No need to rush on county sales tax hike

Chicago Sun Times
Written By Rob Karr and Theresa Mintle Posted: 07/08/2015, 01:34pm
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Cook County once again will have the highest sales tax in the nation if a proposal by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is approved by the County Board.

The proposal is a 1 percent increase in the sales tax, which would mean Cook County consumers would pay a nation-leading sales tax of between 10.25 percent and 11.25 percent. The highest rate, 11.25 percent, would be paid by consumers in the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority area, comprising most of the City of Chicago’s core.

OPINION

President Preckwinkle has stated she would like the Cook County Board to approve this increase by the end of July. This increase is being proposed before the county’s expenses are known and before the budget is fully vetted. The county has until Oct. 1 to notify the Illinois Department of Revenue of a sales tax rate change that would begin on Jan. 1, 2016. If the county wanted a full debate on the issue, and the taxpayers deserve this debate, it should have the conversation as part of the annual budget process.

So, the question is: Why the rush?

Preckwinkle deserves a great deal of credit for keeping the campaign promise she used to win her first term. That promise was to roll back the nation-leading sales tax imposed by her predecessor. We are grateful that she made good on that promise.  But now, we are concerned that her desire to increase the sales tax will push more sales out of Cook County into neighboring counties, where taxes are significantly lower, and online, where taxes can be non-existent.

Clearly, Cook County faces fiscal challenges related to its pension liability. But instead of pushing through a tax increase, we would encourage the County Board to use the upcoming months to:

1) Detail the county’s fiscal year 2016 proposed budget and fully explain their challenges. This also helps everyone figure out if such a drastic increase in the sales tax would even fix the challenges. Cook County’s chief financial officer, Ivan Samstein, has a good presentation that provides valuable and insightful information but needs to be dissected. Everyone would benefit from the enhanced transparency.

2) Give the Illinois General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner every possible opportunity to pass the legislation the county needs to help with its pension obligations. President Preckwinkle stated she would “reconsider” the sales tax increase if Springfield passes the county’s pension reform bill. Why not give them that time by waiting until the last possible moment to reach for new tax monies?

Why ask county commissioners to vote on a tax increase in July when it might not be needed come Oct. 1? Why give Illinois another bad economic development headline unnecessarily?

Every mention of President Toni Preckwinkle has to start with a recognition that she has tried to do a very good job of controlling costs and returning Cook County to stable financial footing. She is to be applauded for desiring to tear up the proverbial credit card by stopping debt deferrals and fund sweeps. Like the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois, decades of pension mismanagement is coming home to roost all at once. Nevertheless, tax increases should be the last option — not the first.

We strongly urge the County Board to approach this rationally by using the time between now and Oct. 1 to fully vet this and other ideas to thoroughly address expenses. Slow down. Be transparent.

Rob Karr is president/CEO of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

Theresa Mintle is president/CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.

121 Report – CRMA – July 2015

Chicago Retail Merchants Association

POLL: MORE THAN 75% OF COOK COUNTY RESIDENTS OPPOSE

SALES TAX HIKE, PLUS MOST SAY THEY WILL SHOP ELSEWHERE

 

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                CONTACT: Matt Butterfield
July 1, 2015                                                                                                                                                           312-545-5058 | matt@macstrategiesgroup.com

CHICAGO – In a poll conducted across Cook County on Tuesday evening, June 30, an overwhelming 75 percent of respondents say they oppose the 1 percent sales tax increase being proposed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, which would give Cook County the highest sales tax in the nation. Additionally, more than 45 percent say they will be more likely to shift to online shopping to avoid Cook County sales taxes, plus more than 68 percent say they would become more likely to shop outside Cook County. The poll was conducted by We Ask America and the Chicago Retail Merchants Association, a committee of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association.

“Consumers in Cook County are already paying a high sales tax, and they have made it clear they do not want to pay even more,” said Rob Karr, president, Chicago Retail Merchants Association. “Across demographic lines, respondents are clear that they are likely to avoid the Cook County sales tax by shopping online or traveling to neighboring counties – as a result, Cook County will not raise the revenue they expect and their problem only gets worse.”

 

POLL RESULTS:

1.      According to published reports, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is considering raising the county sales tax by a percentage point to 10.25%. She says the move may be necessary to pay for pension debt and other spending. Do you APPROVE or DISAPPROVE of raising Cook County’s sales tax in order to pay for pension debt?

Approve          21.09 %

Disapprove     75.02%

Undecided       3.88%

 

2.      If the sales tax is increased, would that make you more likely or less likely to shop more online to avoid the increase?

More likely     45.77%

Less likely       36.82%

Undecided       17.41%

 

3.      If the sales tax is increased to 10.25% or more, would that make you more likely, or less likely to shop outside of Cook County to pay less?

More likely     68.66%

Less likely       22.49%

Undecided       8.86%

 About Chicago Retail Merchants Association

Chicago Retail Merchants Association (CRMA), a committee of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association (IRMA), is dedicated to protecting the retail industry in the City of Chicago. Employing one in every five Chicagoans and generating 1/3 of local tax revenues, today, more than ever before, it is necessary for the retail industry to have a firm, solid footing in the activities of local government. CRMA is the voice for retailers in the City of Chicago.

 

Poll Methodology

This poll was conducted on June 30, 2015, using both automated (recorded) and live calls. In all, 1,006 Cook County residents completed all questions on the poll from both landlines and cell phones. The Cook County residents dialed were randomly selected using our proprietary registered-voter database to assure the greatest chance of providing an accurate cross-section of opinion from the countywide sample. Our sampling methodology ensures that We Ask America poll results are “projectable,” meaning that if every resident in a given geography were dialed, the results would not differ from the reported poll results by more than the stated margin of error at a 95% confidence level (the industry standard), if the same survey was repeated.  For this case, results with a margin of error of ±3.1 % at the 95% confidence level means that if the same survey were conducted 100 times, then 95 times out of 100 the results would not vary in either direction by more than 3.1% in either direction.  No weighting measures were applied to the results to correct for over/under-sampling since it was determined those changes would not make a significant difference.

POLL RESULTS

Cook County Sales Tax Hike Poll

Illinois Retail Merchants Association

We Ask America logo

We Ask America™ Polls

 Date of Poll:  June 30, 2015

  Responses: 1,006 Likely Voters             Margin of Error:  ±3.1%

   1. According to published reports, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is considering raising the county sales tax by a percentage point to 10.25%. She says the move may be necessary to pay for pension debt and other spending. Do you APPROVE or DISAPPROVE of raising Cook County’s sales tax in order to pay for pension debt?

 

 

Count

Percentage

Approve

  212

21.09%

Disapprove

  754

75.02%

Undecided

   39

3.88%

 

  2. If the sales tax is increased, would that make you more likely or less likely to shop more online to avoid the increase?

 

 

Count

Percentage

More likely

  460

45.77%

Less likely

  370

36.82%

Undecided

  175

17.41%

 

  3. If the sales tax is increased to 10.25% or more, would that make you more likely, or less likely to shop outside of Cook County to pay less?

 

 

Count

Percentage

More likely

  690

68.66%

Less likely

  226

22.49%

Undecided

   89

8.86%

 

Crosstabs by GENDER:                                                                       

SALES TAX APPROVAL
GENDER

Approve

Disapprove

Undecided

Total

   Female

20.28%

74.96%

4.76%

100.00%

   Male

22.60%

75.14%

2.26%

100.00%

   Total

21.09%

75.02%

3.88%

100.00%

SHOP ONLINE TO AVOID LOCAL TAX
GENDER

More likely

Less likely

Undecided

Total

   Female

42.09%

39.17%

18.74%

100.00%

   Male

52.54%

32.49%

14.97%

100.00%

   Total

45.77%

36.82%

17.41%

100.00%

SHOP OUTSIDE COOK CO
GENDER

More likely

Less likely

Undecided

Total

   Female

67.13%

23.20%

9.68%

100.00%

   Male

71.47%

21.19%

7.34%

100.00%

   Total

68.66%

22.49%

8.86%

100.00%

 

Crosstabs by ETHNIC GROUP:

SALES TAX APPROVAL
ETHNIC GROUP

Approve

Disapprove

Undecided

Total

   African American

19.56%

74.76%

5.68%

100.00%

   Asian

24.49%

71.43%

4.08%

100.00%

   Hispanic

17.54%

80.70%

1.75%

100.00%

   White

22.13%

75.53%

2.34%

100.00%

   Other/Refused

21.43%

72.32%

6.25%

100.00%

   Total

21.09%

75.02%

3.88%

100.00%


SHOP ONLINE TO AVOID LOCAL TAX
ETHNIC GROUP

More likely

Less likely

Undecided

Total

   African American

37.85%

47.95%

14.20%

100.00%

   Asian

46.94%

34.69%

18.37%

100.00%

   Hispanic

42.11%

35.09%

22.81%

100.00%

   White

51.49%

30.21%

18.30%

100.00%

   Other/Refused

45.54%

34.82%

19.64%

100.00%

   Total

45.77%

36.82%

17.41%

100.00%

 

SHOP OUTSIDE COOK CO
ETHNIC GROUP

More likely

Less likely

Undecided

Total

   African American

67.82%

23.97%

8.20%

100.00%

   Asian

57.14%

32.65%

10.20%

100.00%

   Hispanic

68.42%

22.81%

8.77%

100.00%

   White

68.51%

21.28%

10.21%

100.00%

   Other/Refused

76.79%

18.75%

4.46%

100.00%

   Total

68.66%

22.49%

8.86%

100.00%


METHODOLOGY:

This poll was conducted on June 30, 2015 using both automated (recorded) and live calls. In all, 1,006 Cook County residents completed all questions on the poll from both landlines and cell phones. The Cook County residents dialed were randomly selected using our proprietary registered-voter database to assure the greatest chance of providing an accurate cross-section of opinion from the countywide sample.

Our sampling methodology ensures that We Ask America poll results are “projectable,” meaning that if every resident in a given geography were dialed, the results would not differ from the reported poll results by more than the stated margin of error at a 95% confidence level (the industry standard), if the same survey was repeated.  For this case, results with a margin of error of ±3.1 % at the 95% confidence level means that if the same survey were conducted 100 times, then 95 times out of 100 the results would not vary in either direction by more than 3.1% in either direction.  No weighting measures were applied to the results to correct for over/under-sampling since it was determined those changes would not make a significant difference.

voters-oppose-cook-county-sales-tax-hike.jpg&maxw=708&q=100&cb=20150702000137&cci_ts=20150701145127

Crain’s Chicago Business has the story on our latest CRMA poll. Who likes a sales tax hike? Not too many… Here is the article:

Tax hikes are never popular, and Toni Preckwinkle’s proposal to raise the sales tax may not be an exception, even if it is eventually adopted by the Cook County Board.

A large majority of Cook County residents do not favor raising the tax to 10.25 percent, from 9.25 percent, to pay pension debt, according to a poll commissioned by the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which opposes the increase. The hike is estimated to raise as much as $474 million a year.

Of the 1,006 likely voters surveyed, 75 percent said they disapprove of the plan, according to a poll yesterday conducted by We Ask America. Only 21 percent approved, while 4 percent were undecided.

A sales tax hike “is going to give us a headline we really don’t need, which is that we are going to be the highest sales tax in the nation,” said Rob Karr, CEO of the retail group.

Preckwinkle, president of the Cook County Board, has acknowledged that the sales tax hike is not popular, but says it is needed to fund the retirement plan for county workers after the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass a pension bill she backed. A portion of the tax hike also would be used to finance road improvements and other infrastructure projects.

“We are sensitive to the concerns of all Cook County businesses, and for that reason we believe it’s critical to create a stable county government with certainty around our tax structure,” a Preckwinkle spokesman said in a statement.

She has said a majority of the board will not approve a property tax hike, limiting her options. But she believes she can round up enough votes on the board to raise the sales tax. The survey underscores the difficulty of finding those votes, Karr said.

 “It would be pretty rare that there would be any revenue enhancements that are easy,” he said. “I think this probably falls in the category of one of the hardest.”

The survey also found that the sales tax hike would make people more likely to shop online or outside the county.

Nearly 69 percent said they would be more likely to shop outside the county if the sales tax were raised. Nearly 46 percent said the tax hike would make them more likely to shop on the Internet, while 37 percent said it would make them less likely. Nearly 9 percent were undecided.

The Preckwinkle administration has said it has factored a loss of sales in its estimate that the tax hike would raise $305.5 million in the fiscal year ending Nov. 30, 2016. In fiscal 2017, the first complete year the hike would be in place, it would raise $473.8 million.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. The survey combined an unspecified mix of automated responses with live interviews. It also surveyed respondents on land lines and cellphones. We Ask America is a subsidiary of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association.

TanyaTriche

Contact Information:

Tanya Triche

Vice President & General Counsel
312-726-4600
ttriche@irma.org

121 Report – CRMA – June 2015

Issue 4             

In This Issue

COOK COUNTY SALES TAX
CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE
COUNCIL ACTION

CHICAGO TAKES INITIAL STEPS TO ADDRESS

UNCERTAIN FINANCIAL FUTURE

The new City Council has been in office for one month and as they settle in to set up their offices, hire staff and meet with constituents, they are also keenly aware that a tough budget season looms overhead.  In order to balance the budget and fund the various pension systems, the Aldermen will be asked to take some hard votes.  This month, the Council approved a measure by the Mayor to restructure some of its debt by issuing over $1 billion in bonds.  The city argued that it was necessary to restructure the debt so that it could move from a variable interest rate, which it cannot control, to a more favorable, fixed interest rate.

The city has found itself under the critical and watchful eye of Moody’s in recent months.  Last month, the credit rating firm reduced Chicago’s rating to junk status.  This move was punishment for not having a sufficient fix for the pension crisis in place, and it gave lenders an edge by allowing them to call up payments on existing lines of credit.  Instead of following through with an immediate demand for payment, the banks agreed to keep the status quo if the city took reasonable steps to reduce its risk.  Therefore, the Mayor sought permission from the Aldermen to restructure the debt.  The city is confident that it will find buyers interested in its debt as interest in other recent bond deals has been heavy.

While this move was criticized by some members of the Progressive Caucus because it restructures debt without providing for new revenue, the measure passed overwhelmingly in committee and on the Council floor.

The city is under pressure to make a nearly $550 million balloon payment to its police and fire pensions required by state law.  To date, it does not have a viable way to make the payment outright and is counting on the General Assembly to help it restructure the payment into something more manageable.  One thing it won’t be able to do is reduce benefits in order to increase funding to the pensions.  The Illinois Supreme Court has ruled that such measures are unconstitutional.  As the General Assembly continues to debate how it will address its own underfunded pensions, the city looks on with some angst.

In the meantime, members should note that an ordinance to increase property taxes is not only possible, it’s probable.  And a property tax increase would come on top of the 30%-40% average increases in property tax assessments that commercial property owners are already experiencing in Cook County.  Other ideas to raise revenue such as a gas tax and city income tax have been floated as well.

While the official kick-off to the budget season usually starts in October, given the city’s uncertain financial future and the gridlock in discussion in Springfield, Mayor Emanuel announced that the city will move up its budget discussions to September.  The Mayor will publish his ideas of how to fill the $1 billion budget gap at that time.   The Mayor also plans to have a budget passed a month early as well.  Passage will likely occur prior to November 1, 2015.

Return to Top

DÉJÀ VU:  

COOK COUNTY BOARD PRESIDENT TALKS OF

INCREASING THE SALES TAX

After running on a platform to reform government ethics, restructure the health and hospital system and repeal the 1% increase in the sales tax, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle handily won her election in 2010.  Since then, she made good on her promise to repeal the increase and did so over a period of 3 years, with the tax returning to its current rate of 0.75% in 2013.  She also made cuts in staff over the years to reduce her overall budget.  In the interim, she raised the cigarette tax by $1.00, instituted a tax on other tobacco products (OTP), increased the liquor tax and imposed a non-titled personal property use tax (which was subsequently defeated in court) to help replace the revenue from rolling back the sales tax increase.

Now, as President Preckwinkle faces her own significant budget issues related to under-funded pensions, a crowded county jail and the health and hospital system, it is being widely reported that she will seek to increase the sales tax by 1% just two years after she repealed the tax increase.  If such a measure were to be introduced and passed, Chicago would have the highest sales tax in the country at 10.25%.  While the President’s office will not confirm whether these reports are true, Republican Commissioners have stated that she has met with them separately to discuss the idea and Democratic Commissioners have warned that additional sources of revenue were on the table for 2016.  Early reports indicate praise for President Preckwinkle’s cost cutting measures to eliminate waste at the County and concern about a property tax hike which could make a sales tax increase a more viable option.

CRMA has been very clear.  An increase in the sales tax is wrong for the County, especially around its borders.  Shoppers are mobile and have shown that if prices and taxes are lower elsewhere, then they will drive in search of ways to save money.  Cook County’s commercial districts, especially in South Suburban Cook, are struggling with high vacancy rates and increased property tax assessments.  At a time when many of the local mayors are looking for more investment, a sales tax increase discourages development inside the border.  Furthermore, there has been some discussion of saving residents and businesses from a property tax hike by agreeing to an increase in the sales tax.  But this is likely a false premise as the city of Chicago will very likely attempt a property tax hike at the same time that the County Board will introduce the sales tax increase.  If you live in Chicago, that’s a double whammy.  CRMA will remind Commissioners and the President’s office of these facts, if a proposal actually surfaces.

We are hearing that a proposal could come as early as July 1 and be approved by the end of that month.  This measure would most likely run separate and apart from the budget in an effort to encourage Springfield to act on the County’s pension relief bill.  On behalf of members who have made the decision to invest inside the Cook County border, we would oppose any measure that drives our customers over the border.

Return to Top

SHIFTING COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS

The City Council has announced the Committee Chairmen and members for this new term. CRMA generally interfaces with three committees, although we occasionally will have agenda items that affect the industry sent to other committees.  To that end, you should know which Council Members sit on the Committees on Finance, Health and Environmental Protection and License and Consumer Protection.  They are listed below:

Committee on Finance (35 members)

Chair:  Ed Burke (14)

Vice Chair:  Patrick O’Connor (40)

John Arena (45)

Carrie Austin (34)

Anthony Beale (9)

Howard Brookins, Jr. (21)

Walter Burnett, Jr. (27)

Will Burns (4)

George Cardenas (12)

Willie Cochran (20)

Pat Dowell (3)

Jason Ervin (28)

Toni Foulkes (16)

Leslie Hairston (5)

Michelle Harris (8)

Margaret Laurino (39)

Roberto Maldonado (26)

Gregory Mitchell (7)

Emma Mitts (37)

Joe Moore (49)

Proco “Joe” Moreno (1)

Ricardo Munoz (22)

Matt O’Shea (19)

Harry Osterman (48)

Marty Quinn (13)

Ariel Reboyras (30)

Brendan Reilly (42)

Roderick Sawyer (6)

Debra Silverstein (50)

Daniel Solis (25)

Nicholas Sposato (38)

Patrick Thompson (11)

Tom Tunney (44)

Scott Waguespack (32)

Michael Zalewski (23)

Committee on Health

Chair:  George Cardenas (12)

Vice Chair:  Harry Osterman (48)

Carrie Austin (34)

Walter Burnett, Jr. (27)

James Cappleman (46)

Willie Cochran (20)

Toni Foulkes (16)

Leslie Hairston (5)

Brian Hopkins (2)

Deborah Mell (33)

Gregory Mitchell (7)

Emma Mitts (37)

Joe Moore (49)

Proco “Joe” Moreno (1)

Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35)

Ariel Reboyras (30)

Tom Tunney (44)

Gilbert Villegas (36)

Michael Zalewski (23)

Committee on License and Consumer Protection

Chair:  Emma Mitts (37)

Vice Chair:  Debra Silverstein (50)

John Arena (45)

James Cappleman (46)

Willie Cochran (20)

Michelle Harris (8)

Roberto Maldonado (26)

Gregory Mitchell (7)

David Moore (17)

Matt O’Shea (19)

Marty Quinn (13)

Ariel Reboyras (30)

Roderick Sawyer (6)

Michael Scott, Jr. (24)

Michele Smith (43)

Chris Taliaferro (29)

Tom Tunney (44)

Scott Waguespack (32)

The City also has 2 new Commissioners of departments that interface often with the membership:

Commissioner Ginger Evans

Department of Aviation

Commissioner Judy Frydland

Department of Buildings

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CITY COUNCIL ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS   INTRODUCTIONS

Ordinance to Issue Permits for Litter Baskets on the Public Way

Sponsor:  Alderman Joe Moreno (1st Ward)

Committee on Finance

This proposal would require privately-owned litter baskets that are placed on the public way to be permitted.  Designs for the baskets must be approved by the city.  Standard refuse containers and other commercial refuse containers are exempt from the proposal.  The owner is responsible for removal of trash from the basket.  Violators will be subject to a fine. 

Ordinance to Ban the Sale of Food Products Derived from an Animal that was Administered Antibiotics

Sponsor:  Alderman Edward M. Burke (14)

Committee on Finance

This proposal is a re-introduction of the Chairman’s proposal from last term.  It proposes to ban the sale of any food product derived from an animal that was administered a medically important antimicrobial for a non-therapeutic use.  If animals were administered the drug for the purpose of treating an active disease or infection, then the proposal would not apply.  But if the antimicrobials are used generally to promote growth or generally prevent diseases that are not active in the animal or necessary to control diseases, then any food products made from such animals will not be allowed for sale in Chicago.  The proposal would allow the Board of Health to promulgate rules for enforcement purposes. Sidewalk Cafe EnforcementSponsor:  Alderman Brendan Reilly (42)Committee on License and Consumer ProtectionThis proposal would allow for a sidewalk café to be temporarily shut down by the city if they have been issued notices of violation on three different days regarding breaches of public safety.  Such citations, if sustained, can result in the denial of a renewed permit or a renewed permit with conditions. Outdoor Patio Hours of OperationSponsor:  Alderman Brendan Reilly (42)Committee on License and Consumer ProtectionThis proposal would temporarily allow for the sale or service of alcohol until midnight from Sunday through Thursday for permitted outdoor patios in the Central Business District.  Currently, sales and service must stop at 11pm during those days.  Friday and Saturday sales and service will remain unchanged.  These extended hours would expire on December 1, 2015.

 

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Contact Information

TanyaTriche

Tanya Triche

Vice President & General Counsel

312/726-4600

Chicago Retail Merchants Alert

CHICAGO ENERGY BENCHMARKING REPORTING

DEADLINE  AUG. 1, 2015

Owners of certain commercial buildings located within the City of Chicago must comply with the new City of Chicago Building Energy Use Benchmarking Ordinance by August 1, 2015.

Who must comply?

The Ordinance requires commercial and municipal buildings with between 50,000 – 250,000 square feet and residential buildings with over 250,000 square feet to submit verified reports on whole-building energy use and specific building attributes. The City has issued “2015 Notice of Upcoming Obligation to Comply” notices to applicable property owners over the past few weeks.

When must buildings comply?

Property owners must file their 2015 reports by August 1, 2015. Starting in 2016, annually updated reports must be filed before June 1st.

What are the direct costs associated with compliance?

In addition to time needed to gather energy and property data, in 2015, the first year (and every third year thereafter), buildings must have data reviewed by a City-certified in-house or third-party professional engineer, licensed architect, or other trained individual to verify data have been tracked and reported correctly. The costs for this service varies according to the number and complexity of the buildings under consideration.

    • For IRMA members with in-house staff who can be assigned to gather and report required building attributes and energy usage, and also have in-house staff who hold licenses or certifications required by the City to verify data – there may be no direct costs.
    • For members who do not have in-house staff who hold accepted credentials designated by the City to verify reported data, they, minimally, may incur out of pocket costs to hire a 3rd party to verify data.

 

Where can I find more information about benchmarking requirements?

Visit www.cityofchicago.org/energybenchmarking. If you own a commercial building located in the City of Chicago that is 50,000 sq ft or larger and you did not receive notice from the City of Chicago, contact the Help Center at:

info@chicagoenergybenchmarking.org or call (855) 858-6878.

IRMA Members Request Assistance

IRMA has received a number of inquiries surrounding Chicago’s Energy Benchmarking Reporting Requirements. In response, IRMA has asked Mark Pruitt, principal of The Power Bureau, to be available to help assist members with a wide range of services related to reporting requirements, including arranging for 3rd party professionals required for building and usage data verification. Mark has agreed to provide services at reduced rates for IRMA members, starting with a $50 hourly rate for site visits and data verification for single gas/electric account buildings. IRMA’s Utility Program Coordinator, Maggie Murphy, will be “on call” to assist Mark with this effort. You can contact Mark and/or Maggie directly.

# # #

*One of the country’s most respected and innovative energy experts, Mark Pruitt served as the first Director of the Illinois Power Agency – the state agency responsible for securing wholesale electricity and renewable energy for the 4.7 million residential and small commercial accounts located in Illinois. He now advises energy managers (and others) in cities, businesses, non-profits, and universities, including providing insight into the deregulated (or not) market, legislation and regulation that is unique to them and the industry. Mark was selected by the City of Chicago to assist in establishing and implementing the country’s largest aggregation purchasing programs of its kind, and has worked tirelessly on behalf of energy buyers and consumers to force suppliers to adopt transparent bidding and contractual protocols in rates negotiations. His efforts include participating in dialogues with regulators, elected officials, advocates, utilities, and wholesale market operators to ensure stable rates for the future in environments which consumers are assured fairness and transparency.

Contact Information:

 TanyaTricheTanya Triche
Vice President & General Counsel
312/726-4600

 ttriche@irma.org