Chinatown Tax Increase: Is a beautiful landscape worth it?

» Posted by on Sep 2, 2017 in Landscaping | 0 comments

Although most of us can agree that having a beautiful community is beneficial, it is a hot topic for debate who should pay for its upkeep and landscaping. Most cities fund their public works through local taxes, but in huge cities, it becomes more difficult to decide who should pay for beautification projects considering that they will only be enjoyed by the people who live in the immediate area. The City of Chicago has recently received pushback against a proposed tax increase to beautify one of its most heavily visited and popular destinations.

According to the news site DNAinfo.com, the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce is proposing a new property tax increase that, if it is approved by the City Council, will go towards beautification projects and the promotion of high traffic commercial areas in Chinatown. The city of Chicago already has a number of these “special service areas”, or SSAs. The proposition has received plenty of pushback, however, and there are large banners all around Chinatown that proclaim “No to SSA Tax”. Residents and business in the area claim that they cannot sustain yet another tax increase and that the timing of the proposed increase is poor. However, Chinatown is the only big entertainment area in Chicago that does not yet have an SSA, and the money would go towards landscaping, garbage can placement, and would even provide for a full staff to maintain the area. In addition, this SSA would cost less than any of the other 53 SSAs around the city, so the tax burden would necessarily be less than in other areas. According to the chamber, the property tax increase would come out to about $860 per year for property owners. Other supporters of the increase say that large investments in the area have already been made in the form of a $20 million library that opened in 2015, as well as a 30,000 square foot park house that was opened the year before.

The article states that both sides concede that it is difficult to measure how helpful the special service areas are, but beautification projects and new landscaping have been proven methods of raising nearby property values and attracting more people to the area. Personally, I think the new tax increase would help Chinatown and that local businesses would benefit from increased tourism, but I think the city council ought to reevaluate at a later date since new taxes were already recently imposed.

One way a new tax could be avoided altogether would be to encourage business owners to landscape their own properties, but this may end up being more costly. Landscaping companies such as Ware Landscaping in Chicago provide all sorts of services and can pick out shady trees that can even lower your energy bill. Individual landscaping efforts could certainly increase the appeal of your neighborhood, but it would still be necessary for the government to take care of public land. Tax increases for this purpose are unavoidable, but they will result in monumental gains in the long run.

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