Arlington Heights kills efforts to stop ‘Bears tax’

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The Arlington Heights Board of Directors voted unanimously to reject a citizen proposal to stop them from subsidizing the $5 billion Bears stadium development with taxpayer money. The petition sponsors said they would pursue a matter on the ballot.

Arlington Heights Village Council rejected a proposed 9-0 referendum on October 3 to block the creation of local subsidies for the development of the Chicago Bears stadium.

The “Anti-Corporate Welfare Ordinance” petition circulated by Americans for Prosperity-Illinois sought to prohibit the disbursement of taxpayer funds to incentivize construction of the $5 billion stadium and supporting infrastructure.

The ordinance was signed by 565 Arlington Heights residents. Mayor Thomas Hayes said it would cause a “serious negative economic impact” for the community. But Americans for Prosperity-Illinois deputy director Brian Costin told board members the proposal would come back.

“Our order is about equality before the law,” Costin said. “You shouldn’t be forced…to pay for other people’s profits.” … The citizens of Arlington Heights deserve to have the final say on the issue of corporate welfare.

The Bears said the team Pay to build the stadium on the former site of Arlington International Racetrack. The team is seeking help from local ratepayers to build roads and utilities that would support the new mixed-use development.

Experts suspect the Bears will seek subsidies through tax raise funding, diverting future property taxes to repay bonds used for stadium infrastructure. Property tax revenue would be frozen for existing tax bodies, such as schools, for 23 years as development captured revenue from rising property values.

Costin will need to collect signatures from nearly 7,000 registered voters in Arlington Heights to secure the referendum on a future ballot.

Chicagoans still owe $415 million for past renovations done in 2002 at Solider Field. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has launched another round of renovations that would cost every taxpayer in the city between $833 and $2,036 to keep the football team from leaving Chicago.

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