The Water-Sewer Tax

In this week’s newsletter the alderman says that her vote for the Mayor’s new water-sewer tax was “…necessary to prevent bankruptcy of the Municipal Employees’ Annuity and Benefit Fund (MEABF) and finally put it on a path to solvency.”

What she doesn’t say is that several independent analyses all came to the same conclusion: the City will need another $300 million by 2023 just for this one pension fund. Nor does she say that the bill passed without Council debate in a lopsided 40-10 vote.

The tax kicks in next year, raising the average water and sewer bill to $53 per year. It goes up every year after that: to $115 in 2018, $180 for 2019, and $225 in 2020.

The pension fund would run out of money in 10 years without the tax.  However, after the Council’s Progressive Caucus demanded specifics on the plan, the City finally admitted that the new tax will hold off bankruptcy for only seven years. This is solvency?

This tax will hit the most vulnerable Chicagoans hard. With rents escalating due to the property tax hike, other everyday needs like laundry services will also cost more. For example, residents who use Laundromats can expect to pay about forty cents more per load, according to published reports. And those increases will be in place long before the new tax kicks in as Laundromat owners seek to recoup costs from the property tax hike. Neighbors of mine are moving after being hit with a $700 per month rent increase. Yes, $700 per month–$1,600 for a two-bedroom apartment. Granted, the previous rent was on the low side, but $700?

Chicago is rapidly becoming too expensive for average folks. The cost of corruption is killing us.


4 thoughts on “The Water-Sewer Tax

  1. You’re failing to address a big part of the problem, Follies. We taxpayers can’t afford to pay for the costs of city government, particularly city pension costs. Taxes are high and going higher because pension benefits are beyond control.


    • You’re right, Dan. I failed to note that it will take changes in state law to lessen the burden on taxpayers. Mayor Emmanuel is asking Springfield to require workers to contribute more to their own pensions, but the governor has suggested he will veto any such bill. As the Sun-Times notes, Emmanuel was able to overturn the governor’s veto of an earlier pension relief bill. But, in addition to pension costs, Chicago taxpayers are also saddled with enormous interest payments because of all the money the City borrows to stay afloat. As Bill Bergman of Truth in Accounting recently reported, “Last year, the city spent over $860 million in interest, before spending a dime on any public services.” [“Chicago’s Pension Debt is Still a ‘Sinkhole,” The lack of return on investments is also a factor. []. I highly recommend the “Morning Call” newsletter from Truth in Accounting for real insights into government spending crises throughout the U.S. as well as globally. Register at

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