Now more than ever, taxpayers expect efficiency and transparency when governments invest their limited resources. To maximize the benefits that residents of our seven counties see from these public investments, government agencies across our region need to coordinate decisions and investments strategically. Better access to information will help us reach these goals by putting essential data at the fingertips of not only our local decision makers but also the residents they serve.
Efficient, Transparent, and Fair Tax Policies
State and local taxes have a profound impact on development patterns and the ability of government to provide necessary public services. Current tax policy too often unintentionally encourages choices that undermine the long-term interests of our region and its communities. Sales tax revenues are an incentive for municipalities to seek out retail development that creates fewer high-wage jobs and economic benefits compared to office or industrial development.
The unnecessary complexity of our property tax system — the revenue stream local governments depend upon most — puts stress on households, businesses, and governments themselves. School districts in Illinois rely more on property taxes than almost any other state, creating wide disparities between schools across communities due to divergent property values. Our tax policies should be simplified to support local control and to become more transparent and predictable for taxpayers and businesses.
Better Access to Information and More Coordination
To guide important local decisions, we need better access to information in our region. Open sharing of public information improves services, leads to better decisions, and helps residents understand how their tax dollars are spent. Open access to data also increases accountability and confidence in government, and companies are more likely to choose a location where they trust that government actions are predictable and transparent.
To share information across our region, CMAP and The Chicago Community Trust — partners in the Regional Indicators Project — have created MetroPulse, an advanced web resource to help leaders across the region make more informed decisions. Visit www.metropulsechicago.org for more information.
In addition to sharing information, our region must work together to provide more coordinated delivery of services and to remove the barriers that prevent coordination of programs at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. By efficiently targeting and coordinating investments, our region can streamline programs and services to avoid duplication at all levels of government.
Together, we can make government in our region more effective, which will help make our communities more economically competitive and more livable for all residents.