New year brings new laws to Illinois, Cook County

A slew of tax and fee increases are set to hit Chicagoans in 2014 on everything from water, cigarettes and cable TV to property taxes and parking violations.

There's a small measure of good news, however: For the first time since 2009, parking meter rates won't go up. The last of the five big increases from former Mayor Richard M. Daley's much-criticized meter lease took effect early this year, and Chicago Parking Meters LLC won't get a rate increase until 2015, city officials said.

The requests for more money are the result of decisions made this year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the City Council and Chicago Public Schools, which the mayor controls.

The widest-felt effects will stem from the property tax increase enacted in August by the Chicago Board of Education and higher water and sewer fees set in motion during Emanuel's first year in office as a way to pay for the replacement of aging mains.

The owner of a home valued at $213,000 can expect to pay about $51 more in school property taxes next year. It's the third year in a row that Chicago property owners will get hit with higher school taxes.

City property owners and suburban governments that buy city water face a 15 percent increase in water rates. In some cases, suburban utilities will pass the increases on to people who buy their water. Sewer charges, added to city property owners' bimonthly bills, will be 96 percent of their water tab, an increase of 4 percentage points.

Here's a look at some of the other Chicago tax and fee hikes:

•The city cigarette tax will increase by 50 cents per pack Jan. 10. With federal, state and county taxes added in, the taxes alone on each pack sold in Chicago will hit $7.17, the highest level in the nation. New York City will be second, with a $6.86-per-pack tax.

•Amusement taxes on cable TV will increase 50 percent — to 6 percent from 4 percent. Because of vagaries in federal law, satellite TV subscribers don't pay those fees.

•Drivers who speed near 50 schools and parks where automated speed cameras are going up could be hit with fines of $100 for driving 11 mph and more over the limit and $35 for driving 10 mph over the limit. The city's first speed cameras started generating fines late this year, but more cameras are going online.

•People whose vehicles are impounded for various city offenses — from playing music too loudly to illegally toting a gun — will see their daily storage fees double to $20 for the first five days.

•Three parking violation fines also will increase by $50 — to $250 for parking in a disabled spot, to $150 for parking too close to a fire hydrant and to $75 for parking a truck, recreational vehicle, bus or taxi on a residential street.

•Fines for parking during rush hour where it's banned will increase to $100 from $60. Parking on a street when it's scheduled to be cleaned will cost $60 instead of the current $50.

•Developers of large construction projects will be hit with higher zoning permit filing fees and big surcharges for filing in person instead of electronically.

All of the new city fines and fees are expected to pump about $32.4 million into city coffers next year. City officials say the speed cameras, which started going up around the city in recent months, could bring in an additional $70 million. CPS is counting on the property tax increase to raise $93 million in 2014.

On the state side, it will be several months before new laws allow citizens to carry guns in public and the chronically ill to use marijuana for medical purposes, but both initiatives come with fees and taxes to pay for starting and regulating those programs.

A concealed carry permit will cost $150 for Illinois residents and double for out-of-staters. The licenses are good for five years. That's on top of a $10 application fee to obtain a firearm owner's identification card, which is required to qualify for a concealed carry permit.

Meanwhile, businesses that win approval to grow medical marijuana or run dispensaries will be charged a 7 percent "privilege tax." Patients will be charged a 1 percent tax for buying pot, the same rate that applies to pharmaceuticals.

Tribune reporter Monique Garcia contributed.

hdardick@tribune.com

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