Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to hike property taxes in the city of Chicago annually, based on increases in the cost of living, is designed to avoid the fits and starts of the current system. As we stand, mayors and the City Council avoid property tax hikes by whatever means necessary — sometimes to the detriment of the city’s welfare.

Against all odds, Lightfoot’s idea might possibly make sense.

As a matter of principle, politicians should be required to attach their names to any tax hike. There are fair concerns that by indexing tax increases to the cost of living, the mayor’s plan would take the sting out of raising taxes and encourage both increased taxes and profligate spending.

The idea of automatic annual increases also raises concerns about the cumulative effect of the plan.   


David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.