Strong economy, business at the heart of Rauner’s plans

Illinois governor-elect Bruce Rauner addressed several hundred people Tuesday afternoon at a Springfield (Illinois) Better Government Association luncheon.

Although Rauner didn’t provide detailed plans about how he’ll achieve success as the next Illinois governor, his remarks about improving the financial situation of the state produced applause and laughter from those in attendance at the event, titled “Bruce, Budget Blues & BGA.”

Among his points:

  • He will run state government from Springfield and he will not accept a salary or a pension for serving as governor;
  • Following his inauguration on Jan. 12, he will create a short-term task force of leaders from education, government, business and labor, etc. to help identify solutions for the state’s financial crisis;
  • Although he will agree to short-term solutions, his long-term goal is to structurally change government and eliminate redundancies;
  • He believes that in order for social services to support citizens effectively our state’s economy must be strong and vibrant; and
  • He has a plan to help the state’s business community and for battling opponents of the business community.

“I love Illinois,” said Rauner. “We have to become a growth state again.”

Lake Forest latest to liberalize Accessory Dwelling Unit use

Howard Handler

The City of Lake Forest (Lake County) is the latest municipality to recognize the benefits of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), often referred to as granny flats, coach houses, in-law suites, garage apartments and cottages.

Lake Forest is home to many properties originally built with ADUs to accommodate domestic staff, but their use fell out of fashion and became prohibited over time.  However, communities like Lake Forest are starting to rethink allowing their use.

While testifying in support of relaxing ADU regulations, the North Shore – Barrington Association of REALTORS® (NSBAR) touted several benefits of ADUs, including, but not limited to:

  • expanding private property rights,
  • increasing property values,
  • creating more affordable housing options and
  • augmenting housing choice for the elderly and adults with disabilities who desire or need to live near their family while maintaining independence.

After careful study, the Lake Forest City Council unanimously voted to allow greater use of ADUs in certain zoning districts and under certain circumstances.

“The Village of Winnetka, in 2012, adopted an ordinance liberalizing ADUs, and now Lake Forest.  NSBAR proudly supported both ordinances, and we hope, over time, as the two communities become more comfortable with the concept, they allow even greater ADU use,” said NSBAR Government Affairs Director, Howard Handler.

Read more on Lake Forest’s effort here.

Want to learn more about ADUs and if they are right for your clients, click here.

Panel of economists discusses state’s economy with IAR

Economists met with IAR on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 to discuss demographic trends and how they apply to the real estate industry and the state's economy.

A panel of economists met with IAR’s CEO along with IAR Public Policy and Advocacy staff in Chicago to discuss economic shifts in the state and what they might mean for the real estate industry and the broader economy.

The meeting, held Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014, looked at migration patterns, job growth and other indicators of how the state is faring in the post-Recession era.

Joining IAR were:

  • Dr. Geoffrey Hewings, director of the Regional Economic Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois.
  • Alexei Tchistyi, associate professor of finance and director of the Office of Real Estate Research, University of Illinois.
  • David Cleeton, Professor of Economics and Department Chair,  Illinois State University.
  • William Polley, associate professor of economics, Western Illinois University.
  • Curtis Dubay, research fellow in tax and economic policy at The Heritage Foundation.

Jason Horwitz, senior consultant with Anderson Economic Group in Chicago led off presentations with an overview of his research.

A report from the research being conducted by the economists is planned in the future.

IAR adds to staff devoted to Chicago-area issues

Kris Anderson

IAR has tapped a seasoned veteran of Cook County government to help with REALTOR® advocacy in Chicago.

Kristopher “Kris” Anderson joined IAR’s governmental affairs staff on Monday. He will work with IAR’s Chicago Governmental Affairs Director Brian Bernardoni out of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®’ offices.

Anderson will assist Bernardoni on issues that come before the Chicago City Council. He will also work on REALTOR® advocacy with members of the Cook County Board.

Anderson comes to the IAR after 10 years of service for Cook County, serving in its Department of Revenue, its Department of Budget & Management Services and its Board of Review.

While with Cook County’s Department of Revenue, Anderson helped prepare annual revenue projections, managed projects, reviewed requests for proposal and requests for quotation, developed and led numerous investigations of the Cook County Tobacco Tax Ordinance and developed and managed the Cigarette Reward System.

With the Department of Budget & Management Services, Anderson compiled and analyzed budget data for Cook County’s Public Safety Fund, which included 29 departments, $781 million and more than 14,000 positions.  With the Board of Review, he conducted community informational meetings, reviewed residential property taxes and sometimes reduced assessments.

Anderson also served one year as a special assistant to former U.S. Rep. Jesse L. Jackson  Jr.  His duties included resolving constituent issues and helping select candidates to be nominated for U.S. military academies.

A graduate of the University of Illinois, Champaign, Anderson holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and speech communication. He has a project management strategy certificate from the University of Chicago’s Graham School.

How are conservative estimates of real estate tax hurting taxpayers?

Even though 17 Chicago suburbs underestimated a total of nearly $5.6 million in real estate transfer tax revenue during the most recent fiscal year, a Daily Herald article asserts the approach keeps taxes high and doesn’t allow many opportunities to give affected taxpayers tax relief.

The situation pits town officials against watchdog groups who believe more accurate budgeting should be done.  According to the Daily Herald article by Jake Griffin, officials estimate real estate transfer tax revenue conservatively because home sales are hard to predict and the amount collected depends on selling prices. Critics wonder if towns are spending enough time and energy to estimate accurately.

A home valued at $300,000, for example, usually results in a real estate transfer tax of approximately $900, and it is often paid by the seller, the article states.

Naperville and Glen Ellyn are two examples of towns that received more revenue than budgeted in the most recent fiscal year, while Addison and Hanover Park got less. Some towns put the unexpected revenue in their general fund while others use it to pay for capital improvement projects, the article stated. Home rule suburbs used to be able to charge the tax but now must get voter approval to do so.

Thanks to Government Affairs Director Howard Handler for calling attention to the article.