Last week in an article by The Reader Mick Dumke
Sixth Ward alderman Roderick Sawyer, elected this spring after promising to improve public safety, said the new redeployments won’t address all of his constituents’ concerns. “We do have more officers patrolling the area, which is always a good thing,” he said. “But they can't do it all themselves and we have to acknowledge that.”
So Sawyer says he’s researching the possibility of using special taxing districts to fund a private security force for the community. “We’d get security guards and off-duty cops to patrol, particularly in our residential areas,” Sawyer said. “That might help us crack down on these property issues we’ve been experiencing—the thefts of air conditioners, the lawn mowers stolen. I think we need to do something to combat that.”
So what is a SSA? SSA stands for Special Service Area (SSA). The Special Service Area program is a mechanism to fund expanded services and programs through a localized property tax levy within contiguous industrial, commercial and residential areas. The enhanced services and programs are in addition to services and programs currently provided through the city. SSA-funded projects could include but are not limited to: security services, area marketing and advertising assistance, promotional activities such as parades and festivals, or any variety of small scale capital improvements which could be supported through a modest property tax levy.
The first step in starting an SSA district is for an agency to be approved as a sponsor. The Chatham Business Association was approved and is the sponsor of what is known as SSA 51. SSA was approved in November 2010. Both Alderman Lyle and Harris voted to approve. SSA 51 basic boundaries run from 75th Cottage Grove going West to King Drive on 79th and back down Cottage Grove to 92nd.
Properties in that area pay an additional tax (up to 3%) that goes into a pool that can be drawn on to purchase services such as security and sanitation. Most retailers pass the cost along to consumers by charging higher prices.
While most of the properties are commercial some residential properties are affected. So far there has been little to no activity because there were some concerns that needed to be addressed.
The SSA Alderman Sawyer is looking at would cover the residential areas and focus on security services. There are models in place, although they are not SSA's, Hyde Park which is patrolled by Chicago Police Department and University of Chicago police and University Village patrolled by Chicago Police Department and University of Illinois-Chicago police. The security in the 6th ward would be a private service but some parts of the 6th ward are currently being co patrolled by Chicago State University police.
Would you be willing to pay for this service?
For more information here is the agreement on SSA 51 http://www.cityofchicago.org/content/dam/city/depts/dcd/ssa/2011SSA/SSA51SPA2011.pdf
Here is the map
Chatham Business Association www.cbaworks.org