PORTAGE PARK — Aldermen on Wednesday avoided another skirmish in the continuing fight over aldermanic prerogative as the members of City Council’s Committee on Economic Development advanced plans to spend tax dollars to boost the city’s shopping districts.
Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) told committee members that he would not object to the approximately $300,000 budget for the Six Corners Special Service Area (O2019-7765) even though the district’s bylaws had not been changed at his request to require commissioners to be business owners or property owners within the taxing district’s boundaries.
That change would have unseated longtime member Anna Sobor, who lives in nearby Old Irving Park and supported former Ald. John Arena (45th).
Arena lost to Gardiner in February.
Each Special Service Area across the city levies an extra tax on property owners within specific boundaries for services that benefit all businesses, including holiday decorations, trash pickup, security and snow removal.
A spokesperson for Gardiner said in a statement that he “believes that those who are in decision-making positions on the SSA, have a stake in its operations and pay taxes in the SSA.”
New rules put in place by Mayor Lori Lightfoot no longer require aldermen to sign off on Special Service Area commissioner appointments and budgets in their own wards.
Instead, city staff consults with them.
Aldermen also advanced 18 appointments to the various boards that spend Special Service Area funds.
Aldermen also OK’d three commercial property tax breaks designed to spur development of long vacant, or underused, land and create, or keep, jobs.