from Local Attorney, Michael H. Wasserman

Friday, January 18, 2008

Buy a House, Save a Municipal Pension.... (part 2)

Now that the State legislature approved the Hamos bill (our mass transit bail out) all eyes turnb to the City Council who must now vote on the proposed transfer tax increase. As realtors and others in the industry wring their hands with worry about how the increased fee will effect the already slow market, it looks like our neighbor to the north in Evanston may well get into the act themselves.

I'll explain in a minute, if you'lll indulge me this digression about my closing this morning.

Most of the parties late to arrive, as they all had trouble finding nearby parking. One of the real estate agent proudly announced that she avoided that problem by riding the el. She proceeded to grimace, look the buyer in the face, and comment to the effect that at least she (the buyer) saved money by closing before the City raised the transfer tax. She proceeded to lambast the legislature for making her poor buyers bear the brunt of saving the transit workers pension funds. I, rather smugly, suggested to her that everything was going to be ok. If we (Chicago) enact a transfer tax increase, Evanston and/or Oak Park will follow right behind, just to stay ahead of us (cost-wise, that is). Some guffaws and the conversation returned to the business at hand, closing the contract.

I said that in jest, of course but upon my return to the office, I saw this notice in this morning's Daily Northwestern: Evanston is looking to increase its real estate transfer tax 20% from $5 per $1,000 to $6 per. Evanston residents will vote on the proposal on the same ballot with the State-wide primaries on Feb. 5

As with the transit bailout, this property tax increase is intended to fund a shortfall in municipal employee pensions. Instead of helping provide for retired transit workers, this one will benefit that City's retired police and fire personnel.

A new trend in government finance? Time will tell.