By J. J. Quincannon, The Chicago Times
January 26, 2022
CHICAGO – City Council approves the $26.1 million real estate transfer tax windfall from the city to the CTA. The funds will be used to help retire pension obligations.
Although the transfer of funds was a routine and non-discretionary request, the Budget Committee was hysteric with drama when CTA President Dorval Carter Jr. refused to testify last week as to how the money would be spent.
In a second attempt on Tuesday, the CTA’s Chief Financial Officer Jeremy Fine was sent to testify that the money would be used to help retire pension obligation bonds issued in 2008. The pension fund supports about 18,750 active employees and retirees. According to Fine, the annual debt service payment is $150 million on bonds that will not be retired until 2040.
Deborah Lane, secretary-treasurer of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union Local 241, also testified in support of the fund transfer. According to Lane, if the committee did not fulfill its statutory obligation to pass the transfer tax windfall to the CTA, there is a risk that additional pension payments will be passed onto CTA bus drivers, who are currently contributing 13.24% of their salaries toward their pensions.
When Budget Committee members realized that a major pool of potential voters was at risk of being angered, the fund transfer was approved, yet the committee still grilled CTA reps as to why Cater did not present himself to the committee.