LETTERS: Chicago’s downtown pays fair share of taxes

SHARE LETTERS: Chicago’s downtown pays fair share of taxes

(AP Photo/G-Jun Yam)

In its Aug. 29 editorial titled “The price Chicago must pay for a past failure of courage,” the Sun-Times Editorial Board opined that Chicago’s downtown business community should incur increased taxes because it hasn’t paid its fair share.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

At the Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago, we believe these kinds of statements underscore a widespread misconception that Chicago’s business community and its vibrant downtown are capable of shouldering a limitless tax burden without ever reaching a tipping point. This inaccurate portrayal couldn’t be further from the truth and is in itself a threat to Chicago’s economic future.

While the Sun-Times suggests “it’s someone else’s turn” to foot the bill, they failed to mention that businesses are already paying their fair share of the property tax hike. In fact, businesses must pay higher rates due to a unique commercial building assessment rate that is 250 percent of the rate of assessment for residential property. That means that for every $100 of property value, single-family homes are assessed $10 and commercial buildings are assessed $25. After the 2015 increases, 190 of our member buildings paid over $906 million in property taxes (an average of over $4.7 million per building), which are passed down to business tenants.

The Sun-Times also goes on to list the multitude of new and increased taxes including water, sewage, soda and bag taxes residents must pay — all of which businesses also must pay. Commercial office buildings, unlike one- to four-unit residential buildings, have been required to pay the entire cost of refuse collection for decades. Owners of one- to four-unit residential buildings have been only recently asked to pay $9, a fraction of the actual cost the city incurs to collect and dispose of trash.

Yes, our downtown is booming right now, which is fortunate as additional revenues help to alleviate the property tax burden on residents. That’s why it’s so important to cultivate a thriving downtown. Our member buildings house nearly 13,000 downtown businesses supporting over 400,000 employees, while Chicago office building expenditures inject $4.6 billion into the economy.

But we can’t forget that business owners always have choices before they hit a tipping point: to increase salaries or eliminate staff, to expand offices or close their doors, to stay or move away. Each of these choices has a direct relationship on the livelihood of each and every Chicagoan and their ability to drive or drain the economy. The reality is pitting homeowners and businesses against each other won’t solve the problem. The vitality of our downtown impacts the fiscal stability of the entire city and we are all in this together.

Michael Cornicelli, executive vice president,

Building Owners and Managers Association of Chicago

Voting is important

It is both stunning and heartbreaking to see the Rev. Jesse Jackson and others in black communities in America rally behind a man who has never voted. Have they no sense of history? Have they so quickly forgotten that police murdered and brutalized hundreds of people who fought for voting rights?

Those police officers knew that voting empowers communities. Voters can make demands, and those demands will be met. If our community was empowered by active voting, inhumane policing would have ended decades ago. Colin Kaepernick’s empty, ineffective gesture desecrates the graves of every civil rights-era victim of police brutality. He and his non-voting cohorts, who far outnumbered all the voters in the last presidential election, ushered a man into the White House who supports and encourages police brutality.

Kaepernick has not earned and does not deserve the support of the black community because his refusal to vote has further endangered us. For that, he should put two knees on the ground.

Patricia Arnold, New East Side

Work to eliminate nuclear weapons

Human beings are on a collision course with disaster. We inhabit a fragile body floating through space. Is it our destiny to lay waste to our heavenly home?

It would seem so. The trumped-up war of words and threats between North Korea and our country could easily have us stumbling and bumbling into a conflagration that could easily end life, as we know it.

It should be obvious to everyone that North Korea thinks that the only way it can achieve respect and a place in the world order is to become a nuclear power. There is really no legitimate reason and way for the U.S. to prevent that from happening.

We, along with other countries including the dictatorial regimes in Russia and China have enough nuclear weapons to destroy each other and all of mankind.

It is hypocritical for us to tell another sovereign nation that they cannot join the nuclear club. The only rational way out of this potential holocaust is to continue diplomatic measures through the United Nations and work to eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons.

Ned L. McCray, Tinley Park

Keep land lines

Having a phone extension in most rooms and on most levels of a home certainly beats carting a cell phone from room to room, from level to level, or even out to the patio or deck.

Landlines are far more reliable. Why be relegated to only a cell phone? Why not have options? Until new technology has been perfected please leave options in place!

Edwina Jackson, Longwood Manor

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