Illinois lawmakers are looking at capping property tax increases for apartment buildings that include low-income housing in a portion of the building.

State senators gathered Thursday in Chicago for a hearing to discuss Senate President John Cullerton’s Senate Bill 2259. It would put caps on how much assessments on apartment complexes could rise if the owner commits at least 20 percent of the building's units to be reserved for families that make less than a set income depending on the area. The caps would gradually be reduced over the course of ten years. 

New construction is typically assessed for a higher dollar value once it’s finished because it’s worth more than it was as an open lot.

Curt Bailey with construction firm Related Midwest said the program would make such projects more attractive for builders.

“You can’t build a building that has 20 percent affordable [housing domiciles] in it without the incentives outlined in [Cullerton’s bill],” he said. 

Bailey said his firm has used similar programs in other cities.

State Sen. Dan McConchie, R-Hawthorne Woods, said he worried that the incentive would push the cost of government services onto other property owners.

“Whenever we create another tax credit, we end up shifting that tax burden to others,” he said. “We do it for veterans, we do it for senior citizens, we do it for other groups.” 

The legislation would make the program mandatory in Cook County, but would require county board approval elsewhere.

Some supporters said Cullerton’s legislation didn't go far enough, adding that other bills would cap rent-controlled property assessments instead of just limiting the increase and extend the life of the subsidy to thirty years.

The bill could be voted on as soon as October when lawmakers return for the fall veto session.

Staff Writer

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.