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02/18/2010

Daley's Deal for Taxpayers

  Walking in the Loop this week I saw a bus shelter with a sign advertising Mayor Daley's Property Tax Relief Program.  It beckoned any homeowner who makes less than $200,000 a year, whose property tax bill increased by at least $50, to apply for a one-time cash grant that could range between $25 to $200.

  In the application, remarkably, you don't have to provide proof of income.  Just enclose a copy of your tax bill and a photocopy of an ID with your current address.   Within six to eight weeks, the city will mail recession-weary residents a VISA check card in the amount of their grant.  Its estimated that half the city's 400,000 homeowners will qualify.  They have until March 31st to file their application. 

  That Mayor Daley.  What a swell fellow he is.

  Now comes the cynical me.

  Hizzoner made it very clear during the first minute that he announced the program that it would be paid for with $35 million from the controversial sale of the city's parking meter system.  So if you're a homeowner who accepts Daley's cash, remember where it came from and stop complaining about the lousy deal some critics say the Mayor made to sell the meters.   You just bought into it.

   And any potential Daley challengers out there in the 2011 city elections, listen up:

   It won't be so easy to call the Mayor a "taxer" by saddling him with that $83.4 million dollar property tax increase (the largest in Chicago history) that Daley pushed through the city council to balance the 2008 budget.  

  Hizzoner will respond truthfully that by 2010, he was a "tax-cutter".   Expect "campaign-mode" Daley to remind those 200,000 homeowners (and voters) in Chicago neighborhoods about those VISA cards that showed up a year earlier during the worst recession since the Great Depression.

  Yes, it does appear the Mayor is busy covering his bases...

  ...if he does decide to run in 2011.

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