• Michael McDevitt
    FEB 07, 2024

    Beale, Cardenas speak against Bring Chicago Home to property owner group

    Ald. Anthony Beale (9) said he's opposed to the Bring Chicago Home ballot measure because he's worried it could stymie investment in Black communities like those in his ward. [Don Vincent/The Daily Line]

    A Far South Side alderperson and a member of the Cook County Board of Review spoke out against the Bring Chicago Home proposal during a virtual meeting hosted by the Neighborhood Building Owners Alliance (NBOA) on Tuesday.

    The Bring Chicago Home proposal, which will go before voters to decide in next month’s primary election, would raise the real estate transfer tax on property sales over $1 million and lower the tax on property sales under $1 million. Revenue raised from the increased tax would be used to address homelessness in the city.

    The ballot measure bundles three proposed changes into one overall question for voters to decide on. The question asks voters to approve a decrease of the real estate transfer tax to 0.6 percent for properties under $1 million, an increase to 2 percent for sales between $1 million and $1.5 million and an increase to 3 percent for property transfers above $1.5 million. 

    Board of Review Comm. George Cardenas said “this is going to be a huge problem” for renters by “raising the rents for people that are already overburdened when it comes to housing costs.”

    “On the one hand, we talked about ending homelessness through this tax, but those impacted will be those that are in the multiple units and those apartment buildings that are in that range that potentially change hands,” Cardenas said. 

    “God knows we don’t want any more homeless people,” the board of review commissioner further said. 

    Ald. Anthony Beale (9) said that he believed approval of the Bring Chicago Home tax would impede development in underserved Black communities where progress is being made. 

    “I probably have one of the fastest growing African American wards in the city of Chicago,” Beale said. “Putting burdens like this, it's going to hurt me, it's no doubt going to hurt me because prices are going to go up and taxes are going to go up, and these businesses are not going to take a chance on the community if they don't feel like they're being supported.”  

    The NBOA and a number of other organizations opposed to the referendum filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court last month to try to get the question thrown off the ballot. The next hearing on the lawsuit is expected Feb. 14. 

    Related: Lawsuit filed with Circuit Court in effort to stop Bring Chicago Home referendum 

    The lawsuit alleges that the city bundling a real estate transfer tax increase on high-end sales with a tax decrease on less expensive sales is an example of prohibited logrolling. It also alleges the ballot question is unconstitutional because it is not specific enough about how the revenue raised will be used.

    A political consultant helping run the campaign to defeat the referendum at the ballot box said during Tuesday’s meeting that the coalition of groups opposed to the referendum should not count on the question being tossed off the ballot. 

    Instead, speakers discussed the importance of getting out the vote, raising funds and running advertising to combat what the consultant portrayed as a well-oiled operation working toward Bring Chicago Home’s passage.  

    Political consultant Greg Goldner, whose firm Resolute Consulting is helping run the campaign against the measure, talked about messaging tactics to persuade people against supporting Bring Chicago Home, such as warning renters about potentially higher costs or redefining what opponents described as misleading terms like “mansion tax.”  

    “It is not a mansion tax. It is on all real estate transactions,” Goldner said. “It has impact in every neighborhood. If you own an apartment building on the West Side, it's going to be impacted by this. If you own a grocery store on the South Side or want to. If you want to create jobs in neighborhoods, it's going to have an impact everywhere in the city of Chicago.” 

    Goldner told the attendees “we can’t wait” for the lawsuit to play out in court and said the campaign against Bring Chicago Home would persist under the assumption that it will need to be defeated at the ballot box.

    “If we do hear back in a positive way on the lawsuit, our spending stops,” Goldner said. “We halt and we hold to understand what the next step is … But in the meantime, we have to move forward and we have to drive this into as many [voters’] minds as possible and get them to actually vote on Election Day.”

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