West Town SSA will meet opposition in Oct. 2 Chicago City Council hearing

Date: 
10/01/2014
NewWTSSA

After two years of renewed efforts for a 15-year reconstitution of the West Town SSA, West Town's application will be reviewed in City Council Chambers, 121 N. LaSalle St., 2nd Floor, Thurs., Oct. 2, at 10 a.m. According to some local SSA property owners, there will once again be opposition.  

"There are about four people working covertly against us but there have only been a handful of people who have contacted us directly," says West Town Chamber of Commerce (WTCC) Executive Director Kara Salgado. 

"We responded to a request for people along the west side of Milwaukee Ave, between Augusta and Division to remove them from the district but had no other such requests." WTCC is the Direct Service Provider for SSA #29.

West Town SSA numbers
In reviewing materials presented by the West Town Chamber of Commerce at their Feb. 3, 2014. public hearing, property owners point out that the following issues remain unanswered:

  • Assuming equalized assessed values stay flat and the annual SSA assessment is 0.442%, the 15 year cost of the SSA will be $8.58M, or an average of $6,370 per property PIN. The minimum cost to cover only the salaries over the 15 years is $2.95M
    [According to Peter Strazzabosco, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Planning and Development, West Town is proposing 0.470%.] 
  • WTCC failed to respond to clarification regarding the $6.81M difference between EAV figures in their presentation.
     
  • According to the WTCC presentation, the average admin expenses of the 43 SSAs in 2011 was 9% of the total budget – the proposed SSA admin expenses over 15 years is 22%.
    [Strazzabosco states, "Administrative expenses in the proposed 2015 budget for SSA #29 are calculated at 10%, which is about average for all SSAs."]
  • 1347 property tax pin numbers identified in the application include 911 residential properties (total of 67.6% residential). This is clearly not the population that is required for the application and benefit from the SSA programs, but will be paying a rather high price over the next 15 years should the application be approved.
    [60 pins are tax exempt according to SSA documents, thus have no assessed value.] 

"The question needs to be asked," says West Town resident and property owner Gladys Alcazar-Anselmo. "Is it worth an estimated $10,638,244.00 to the property owners to pay these taxes so that the Chamber and SSA can hold festivals? 

"Community tax dollars should benefit the payers not the transient visitors to the communities who attend festivals and are not a part of the regular infusion of property taxes, revenues and sales tax in the district. 

"The community needs more trees, garbage cans, economic develop programs, outreach and support for business start-ups, micro loans for shared work spaces basically other economic vehicles. The possibilities are endless, and the West Town Chamber of Commerce SSA’s vision is narrow and limited, it’s time that the City and Alderman demonstrate leadership and eliminate this SSA." 

Support for SSA #29
There have been various statements about a new City policy regarding who is allowed to sign in support of an SSA. Is it only property owners or is it property owners and renters. According to Peter Strazzabosco, Deputy Commissioner, Department of Planning and Development, the applicant is to have 20% of the signatures of owner or taxpayer of record PINs. 

SSA Commissioner Chris Hunt, Seek Vintage, who is four months into being on the Commission, said that he believes that the SSA is vital because it is valuable in keeping streets clean, garbage cans emptied and banners up, in addition to other such services. 

Salgado is positive about the hearing. "We held 5 community meetings, mailed a brochure and post cards and gone above and beyond what was required. We made changes and adjustments based on the feedback." She also added that they now have a "great group of people on the Commission and the Chamber Board."

City Council Hearing
Organizers are providing a “Save the SSA” Jolly Trolley down to City Hall in support of SSA #29, according to an SSA press release. Complimentary pastries and bubbly will be at the West Town Chamber offices at 9 a.m., 1819 W. Chicago Ave, before heading to the hearing. To show support for the West Town SSA. West Town SSA T-shirts will be handed out to show support at the hearing. Organizers are calling this a day to “unite” to keep the neighborhood “clean, green, and beautiful!.”

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