NEWS

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February 25, 2014

Hyde Park areas to acquire more City services with new designation

Using funds provided by taxes levied predominantly on businesses, the designation of the red-outlined area as an SSA will lead to additional services from the City of Chicago.

Using funds provided by taxes levied predominantly on businesses, the designation of the red-outlined area as an SSA will lead to additional services from the City of Chicago.

Harini Jaganathan / The Chicago Maroon

A new designation by the City will lead to additional city services for Hyde Park residents.

The City of Chicago approved the establishment of Special Service Area (SSA) Number 61 in a meeting in November and in January, and approved the appointments of nine committee members who will oversee the SSA’s operations.

Dave Cocagne, President and CEO of Vermillion Development, the developer of Harper Court, said,  “An SSA is generally geared towards supporting services like street cleaning, marketing and promotion, security, flower planters, and extra snow shoveling.”

The SSA designation will provide special governmental services in addition to existing City services, according to public filings from the Office of the City Clerk.

The revenues required to provide the special services will be raised by means of a services tax levied upon the area’s taxable property yearly from 2013 through 2022. The tax will be determined by the SSA committee and will not exceed an annual rate of 0.95 percent of the taxable property’s equalized assessed value. According to public filings from the Office of the City Clerk, the SSA budget for the fiscal year beginning January 1, 2014 and ending December 31, 2014 is $264,508.

“[The services tax] is a special assessment, which is very similar to a tax on property owners,” Cocagne said. “The point is, a large majority of the properties within the SSA are commercial properties, so it’s the property owners and business owners who will end up footing most of the bill.”

Cocagne thinks this is a sign of greater community organization and involvement in neighborhood projects. During the SSA application process, community members served on the SSA Advisory Committee and attended meetings to show support for the SSA.

“I think what it indicates is the property and business owners’ willingness to continue to invest in a special assessment in the area that comprises the SSA,” Cocagne said. “It’s very encouraging to see that kind of long-term commitment towards continuing to improve the area, catalyze development, and make sure that this initial set of redevelopment activities is sustained over a long term.”

The establishment of an SSA in Hyde Park will not interfere with the 53rd Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district already in place, according to Cocagne. The TIF district, established in 2001, incentivizes economic development in the area by freezing property tax rates. The added revenues then go into a fund that finances community development projects like Harper Court.

“They serve complementary but different purposes,” Cocagne said. “Tax Increment Financing, particularly in the case of Harper Court, supported physical improvements like public right-of-way improvements and land acquisitions. The SSA is simply an extension and natural outgrowth of what has already occurred along the 53rd Street corridor.”

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