45th Ward Update – January

45th Ward Update – January

Dear Neighbor,

As we approach Martin Luther King Day, let us recall Reverend King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered in 1968 from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. In his speech, Dr. King called upon the American people to come together to end racism and work towards a more equal and just society.

As we enter 2017 with many unknowns, let’s take a moment to reflect on Dr. King’s vision and embrace our neighbors. The onus is on each of us as individuals to work towards inclusivity and understanding. We break down barriers and overcome hatred when we take a moment to get to know one another. To quote the Reverend on that historic day in Washington, “Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.”

In observance of the holiday, my office will be closed Saturday, January 14 through Monday, January 16. It will reopen on Tuesday, January 17, at 9 am.

Hey Chicago: Bring Your Bag!

In an effort to reduce the number of disposable bags used in Chicago, the city is implementing a tax on one-time-use paper and plastic bags used to carry goods out of stores. Beginning Wednesday, February 1, businesses will begin collecting a $0.07 tax on disposable paper and plastic bags.

Here is the good news, you can avoid this tax entirely by simply bringing reusable bags to the store when you shop.

There are multiple disposable bag exemptions, including paper and plastic bags used to package loose bulk items like fruits and vegetables, bags provided by a pharmacist to contain prescription drugs, dry cleaning or garment bags, newspaper bags, bags sold in packages that contain multiple bags (i.e. garbage bags, pet waste bags, or yard waste bags), and bags provided by a dine-in or take-out restaurant.

The impact of plastic bags on the environment is deleterious, from the fossil fuels required to manufacture and distribute them to the detrimental effects on marine life. But they also have a real impact on the cost of city services. One-time-use plastic bags slow the sorting machines in our recycling facilities and effect the efficiency of our water processing plants. Tons of these bags are deposited in landfills each year. Every ton of waste sent to a landfill represents a cost to the taxpayer. The more we reduce this costs, the more resources the city can put towards more productive city services.

To encourage shoppers to get in the habit of bringing reusable bags before the new ordinance goes into effect, my office will be giving away 100 reusable bags on a first come first served basis (one bag per household).

More information regarding the ordinance is available online.

Appeal Your Property Taxes Through Feb. 1

Through February 1, residents of Jefferson Township can submit their property tax appeals with the Cook County Board of Review via their online portal.

In addition, Commissioner Michael Cabonargi and I will be hosting a Property Tax Appeal Workshop in the auditorium at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence, at 6 pm on Thursday, January 26. Staff members from the Cook County Board of Review and my office will be available to help answer questions on the process and help with submitting paperwork.

2016 Cook County Property Tax Exemptions

The 2016 Cook County property tax exemption applications are now available on the Cook County Assessor’s website.

In Cook County, the due date for the first installment of property taxes is always due the first business day in March. According to Illinois law, the first installment taxes are 55% of the prior year’s total tax (or 55% of the adjusted tax if an assessment certificate of error is certified by the previous November 30). The first installment tax bills will be mailed on January 31, 2017.

For more information on Cook Country property taxes, visit the Cook County Treasurer’s website. For more information on property tax exemptions and exemption descriptions, visit the Cook County Assessor’s website.

Request for Qualifications Now Open for 50×50 Year of Public Art Project

2017 has been declared as the Year of Public Art. As such, the city is seeking artists for a 50×50 public arts project.

The 50×50 initiative was inspired by Chicago’s 50 wards and the 50th anniversary of two of the city’s most iconic public artworks – the Picasso in the Daley Plaza and the Wall of Respect, which once stood on the South Side.

Artists – including painters, photographers, and sculptors – interested in brightening and enhancing the city are invited to submit their qualifications for the project online before February 24.

More information on the Year of Public art -including a year of exhibitions, performances, tours, and other public events – can be found at the Department of Cultural Affair’s and Special Event’s website.

Recycle Your Christmas Tree Through Jan. 21

Rather than throwing away your Christmas tree, consider recycling it instead. Through January 21, there will be 24 tree recycling locations across the city.

The city’s tree recycling program diverts thousands of trees from filling up landfill space and allows environmentally-conscious residents a green alternative to dispose of their trees.

The closest recycling location for 45th Ward residents are:

  • Portage Park, 4100 N. Long;
  • Norwood Park, 5801 N. Natoma; and
  • North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski.

Please make sure your tree is free of tinsel and other ornaments before taking it to a recycling location.

Chicago’s Free Tax Preparation Assistance Program Opens Late January

Eligible individuals and families with children could receive up to $6,896 from the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit alone, not including other valuable credits. Many Chicagoans may not claim all the income tax credits they deserve without the help of knowledgeable preparers, however.

Families earning up to $55,000 or individuals earning up to $30,000 are eligible to take advantage of the city’s free and confidential income tax assistance at 19 sites across Chicago.

Volunteer tax preparers certified through IRS-approved training will assist eligible tax payers with federal and state income tax returns for the 2016 tax year. Sites will be open between late January and mid-April 2017. For specific information on location and site hours, visit the Tax Prep Chicago website. The closest site for 45th Ward residents is at Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett. Their hours are:

  • Mondays from 5 pm to 8:30 pm January 30 thru April 17;
  • Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm February 3 thru April 7; and
  • Saturdays 9 am to noon January 28 thru April 8; finally
  • This location will be closed on February 20, April 14, and April 15.

Last year, the City of Chicago’s free income tax assistance helped 20,000 families and individuals receive $31 million in tax refunds and credits. This added income not only has a direct impact on the lives of Chicago residents – it also helps sustain small businesses, strengthens neighborhoods, and infuses millions of dollars into the local economy.

For more information and to view additional locations, visit the Tax Prep Chicago website.

Irving Park Community Food Pantry Seeking New Board Members

The Irving Park Community Food Pantry (IPCFP) is a volunteer-based organization dedicated to providing caring, consistent service through an equitable distribution of pantry resources to all clients experiencing food insecurity. The Pantry is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors that employs and Executive Director and a Client Services Coordinator. A volunteer staff of upwards of 90 individuals assist with all phases of operation and run the pantry on a weekly basis.

The IPCFP board meets 6 times per year and members are asked to participate on one of two committees: outreach and fundraising. The board is looking for dedicated, interested people with a wide variety of skills.

The Irving Park Community Food Pantry is located at 3801 N. Keeler, in the lower level of the Irving Park United Methodist Church.

For more information, contact IPCFP Board President Belma Torres at belma.torres@gmail.com.

2018 Participatory Budgeting Cycle

As I mentioned in an earlier newsletter, my office is taking the 2017 Participatory Budgeting cycle off due to changes in the Chicago Department of Transportation’s Aldermanic Menu schedule. We’ll use the time to focus on improving the process, increasing participation, and making important infrastructure improvements in 2017.

Participatory Budgeting provides a unique opportunity to determine how your tax dollars are spent and is most effective when residents become engaged. As such, we are always seeking and welcoming to new potential committee members. It is a great way to become more involved in your community and affect substantive change.

Those interested in becoming involved in the Participatory Budgeting process are encouraged to email my office or call 773-286-4545.

Together, we can make the 45th Ward an even better place to live!

The Filament Theatre Presents: The Adventures of Robin Hood

Somewhere near you, there is a band of brothers fighting for justice – seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the mistreated.

It’s a tale that’s been told a thousand times, although never quite like this. There are heroes and villains, sword fights and explosions, love and loss. A cast of two breathes new life into the beloved tale of The Adventures of Robin Hood with exuberance, athleticism, and heart.

Performances begin January 14th at the Filament Theatre, 4041 N. Milwaukee. Shows will run at 11 am and 3 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets cost $25 each and can be purchased online.

Apply to Become a Chicago Police Officer

Are you interested in making a real difference in our community? If so, consider becoming a Chicago Police Officer.

The Chicago Police Department is looking for Chicago residents 18 and older to become part of a team working to make a lasting difference in our communities. The Chicago Police Department offers a competitive salary and benefits in a career that offers a lot of pride.

The Police Department is hosting a Training Academy Open House for interested applicants. Attendees will be able to interact directly with police officers and sample parts of the pre-recruitment test.  These will take place from 10 am to 2 pm on January 14 and January 28 at 1300 W. Jackson. More information on the free Open House is available online.

Applications are now open online and must be completed by January 31, 2017. The test to become a police officer will be held on April 1st and 2nd, 2017 at McCormick Place, 2301 S. King.

Thanks for reading,

John Arena

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