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Chicago property tax relief approved for spouses of fallen emergency workers

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Exemptions can be applied beginning in 2019

A row of brick apartments on a street in Chicago.
Chicago apartments.

Many residents in Chicago are waiting to hear if Lightfoot will increase property taxes to close the budget deficit, but a new ordinance will provide a bit of relief to emergency workers’ families in the event of a tragedy.

The city approved property tax abatements for the spouses of fallen police officers, firefighters, paramedics, active soldiers, and other first responders who have died in the line of duty.

“While our debt to their service and sacrifice cannot possibly be repaid, their legacies are carried on by the families they loved – and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we can make their lives a little easier,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a statement.

The ordinance states that surviving husbands or wives are eligible to apply for property tax exemptions that would begin next year with the 2019 bill. Chicago’s portion of the property tax bill can be waived as long as they remain unmarried and live in the same home. The savings would amount to thousands of dollars per year depending on the assessed value of the home.

Alderman Patrick Daley Thompson (11th Ward) sponsored the ordinance after state lawmakers authorized tax abatements for fallen first responders pending local approval in 2012. Applications for the relief will be vetted through the Cook County Board of Review.

The ordinance comes at a time when Chicago Public School teachers are demanding housing assistance and support for about 16,000 homeless public school students in their union contract. CPS teachers are required to live in the city and unlike other city employees, such as police and firefighters, teachers do not get any assistance.