Civic Federation Blog

11.25.14

A Potential Mental Health Reform Model for Cook County: Saving Money and Improving Outcomes through Coordination in Bexar County

Local governments across the country are searching for ways to more humanely and cost-effectively treat individuals with mental illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system. According to a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics from 2006 (the most recent year for which...

11.20.14

How Property Taxes are Distributed in the City of Chicago

The Cook County Clerk’s Office annually releases a tax rate report that provides the tax rates for various taxing agencies within Cook County. It is important for property taxpayers to have an accurate picture of which governments receive their property tax dollars and for what purpose so...

11.12.14

Chicago Park District Pension Fund Shows Positive Impact of Pension Reforms

The provisions of Public Act 98-0622 will not go into effect until January 1, 2015, but the changes to Chicago Park District employee and retiree pension benefit levels contained in the legislation have already reduced the fund’s unfunded liability by $109.4 million or 18.5% and increased the...

11.05.14

City Continues “Scoop and Toss” Borrowing to Balance the Budget

For the third year in a row, the budget proposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel for the City of Chicago relies on the use of refunding bonds to pay for principal owed in the coming year rather than making payments from operating resources. Although the details of the refunding bonds are not included in the...

10.28.14

Rocco Claps to Receive 2014 Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award

The Civic Federation and Motorola Solutions Foundation are pleased to announce the 2014 Excellence in Public Service honoree, Rocco Claps, Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights. The award recognizes a non-elected government official who has had an extraordinary impact on the quality...

10.22.14

Unfunded Public Pension Liabilities Nearly $20,000 Per Resident of Chicago

The total unfunded liabilities for the State and local public employee pensions that Chicago residents fund reached $19,579 per capita for fiscal year 2012. That is up from $6,175 per capita in FY2003. Like comparing unfunded liability to payroll, calculating the unfunded liability per capita...

10.15.14

How to Calculate an Effective Tax Rate for Your Community

Since the release of our 2012 Effective Tax Rates report on September 29th the Civic Federation has fielded many inquiries about how to calculate the rates for municipalities outside the study. In response, this blog will go through the steps to calculate an effective tax rate for tax year 2012 (...

10.08.14

Analysis Indicates Strong Fiscal Health for LEARN and Namaste Charter Schools, Mixed Results for Others

An analysis this week released by the Civic Federation uses 13 indicators of financial condition to provide a snapshot of the fiscal health of four Chicago charter schools or networks between fiscal years 2007 and 2011. The analysis indicated strong fiscal health for the Lawndale Regional and...

10.01.14

Effective Property Tax Rates in the Collar Counties

This week the Civic Federation released its annual Effective Property Tax Rates report. The report highlights the fact that in 2012 property tax burdens for many Northeastern Illinois communities rose. While analysis of the report often focuses on the 12 Cook County municipalities included in the...

09.26.14

Pension Funding Basics: Investment Rate of Return

The declining health of public employee pension funds throughout the State of Illinois is primarily due to two causes: inadequate employer contributions over a sustained period and recent investment losses. This blog will discuss the role of investment rate of return in public employee pension...