Civic Federation Blog

05.22.15

Chicago Area Governments Bond Ratings Fall Below Investment Grade

Recently, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District and the Chicago Board of Education’s general obligation bond ratings below investment grade, with a negative outlook. Soon after, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s Ratings Services both...

05.06.15

Chicago Public Schools Releases Scaled Back Capital Improvement Plan

On May 1, 2015, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released their proposed FY2016 capital budget and an updated Five-Year capital improvement plan for FY2016-FY2020. The exhibit below shows the amounts proposed by CPS for FY2016-FY2020 for capital spending. In those five years, a total of approximately $...

04.23.15

Civic Federation Releases Plain English and Visual Guides to Illinois Pensions

This week the Civic Federation released a set of two primers on public employee pensions in the State of Illinois. The primary document, A Plain English Guide to Public Employee Pensions in the State of Illinois, answers ten basic questions about Illinois pensions: What is a public pension? Who...

04.16.15

Civic Federation – Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Forum Examines Sin Taxes

The Civic Federation joined with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago on April 2, 2015 to co-host a conference on the use, efficacy and future of sin taxes. Experts, practitioners and academics from around the country gathered to discuss the theories surrounding governments’ use of sin taxes...

04.07.15

Where Do Your Property Taxes Go?

What local government purposes, services, or expenditures does your property tax dollar fund? Governments traditionally use property tax revenues to pay for a wide variety of expenditures, including employee salaries and pensions, debt service and administrative costs. But, there are significant...

04.01.15

More Government Consolidation and Efficiency Efforts in Illinois

The Civic Federation has long supported sensible legislation aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations in Illinois. The purpose of this blog is to summarize briefly consolidation legislation and initiatives that have been proposed since our last update on this...

03.24.15

12-Year Short-Term Liability Trends for Chicago, Cook County and Chicago Public Schools

Short-term or current liabilities are financial obligations that must be satisfied within one year. They can include short-term debt, accounts payable, accrued payroll and other current liabilities. This blog post presents 12-year trends for 1) total short-term liabilities in the Governmental Funds...

03.19.15

Register for the Civic Federation - Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Conference Today!

The Civic Federation and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago will co-host a conference, “Sin Taxes: The Sobering Fiscal Reality,” in two weeks on Thursday, April 2, 2015. The conference will examine the theories behind these ubiquitous taxes and their implementation across the country,...

03.12.15

City Colleges of Chicago Ends FY2014 with Lower Level of Budget Reserves

UPDATE: New information from City Colleges of Chicago has been provided to the Civic Federation that makes adjustments to past years’ Statements of Net Position to comply with the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statements 54 and 63. It will be included in the FY2015...

03.05.15

Chicago Rating Downgrade Triggers Swaps Terms, Outlook Remains Negative

Even after lowering the City of Chicago’s bond rating another step last week, Moody’s Investors Service maintains a negative outlook on the City, heightening the risk of additional ratings actions and possibly increasing termination costs on its swap agreements. On Friday February 27,...

02.25.15

Chicago Pension Reform Litigation on Hold Pending Illinois Supreme Court Ruling

Two lawsuits seeking to overturn a pension reform law for the Chicago Municipal and Laborers’ funds have been put on hold pending the outcome of State pension litigation at the Illinois Supreme Court. Oral arguments for the State pension case have been scheduled for March 11, 2015. In...

02.19.15

Chicago Public Schools Reports Reduction to Fund Balance

The Chicago Public Schools audited financial statements for fiscal year 2014 released last week indicate the deterioration of the District’s fiscal condition continued through the end of FY2014. The District’s most recent Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) reports ending...

02.12.15

Chicagoans’ Pension Obligations Per Capita Rose 199.4% Since 2004

The Civic Federation’s previous blog examined the long-term debt of eight major local governments in northeastern Illinois. This blog explores the unfunded pension liabilities of ten pension funds sponsored by local governments in the Chicago area using a per capita indicator based on...

02.03.15

Long-Term Debt for Eight Major Chicago Governments Rises by 59.2% in 10-Year Period

The Civic Federation regularly analyzes and comments on the budgets and audited financial statements of eight major local governments in northeastern Illinois: 1. City of Chicago; 2. Chicago Public Schools (CPS); 3. Cook County; 4. Chicago Transit Authority (CTA); 5. Forest Preserve District of...

01.29.15

Forward Financial Thinking by the MWRD

A 2009 GFOA white paper identified long-term financial planning as the central tool for local governments to become financially resilient. Financial resiliency is characterized by going beyond just financial sustainability to a system that is adaptive and able to sustain external shocks such as an...