This morning the Chicago daily newspapers are reporting that the Chicago City Council Budget Committee passed Mayor Daley’s 2011 budget recommendation with minor changes. The budget will use much of the remaining parking meter proceeds and revenues from TIF districts to plug a deficit of about $655 million according to WTTW’s Chicago Tonight.
The committee, it is reported, passed the mayors proposal unanimously.
The one substantive change to the budget was the council is rejecting $3.5 million of cuts to local chambers of commerce. That money, which is largely unaccounted for by the chambers, was used by the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce to pay for outside public relations counsel, the chamber has told media outlets.
In other chambers the funds pay for salaries and other services.
At a meeting of the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce last month Schulter announced he would oppose any budget that did not fund the chambers.
The Bulldog contacted Ald Eugene Schulter (D- North Center), Pat O’Connor (D-Budlong Woods) and Dick Mell (D-Irving Park) to ask about the budget proposal and to hear their thoughts on the budget debate. The three aldermen sit on the Budget Committee.
The Bulldog contacted the aldermen twice by e-mail over a period of a week for their views, without any reply from any of them. The Bulldog looked at their web pages (the links for the web pages are in the paragraph above), but there was no discussion of the budget.
The Bulldog also contacted the Rahm Emanuel campaign, requesting their views on the budget. Emanuel’s campaign didn’t respond either.
The only person who did respond was Ameya Pawar, a North Center challenger to 47th Ward Alderman Eugene Schulter.
Independent of the silence of the elected officials the budget did receive other reviews however:
- The Chicago Inspector General issued a report detailing $243.8 million of savings on Oct. 25. The council tells the IG to mind his own business.
- Fitch downgraded the city’s bond rating on Oct. 28 citing reduced reserves, above average foreclosures and high unemployment.
- The Civic Federation Wednesday released its report on the budget. The federation said the budget does not address the “structural deficit and relies too heavily on asset lease reserve funds and debt restructuring.”
- On Thursday the city delayed an $800 million bond sale citing increased interest rates. According to the Civic Federation, debt service now accounts for 21 percent of projected appropriations in 2011, largely due to increased debt load. This despite historically low interest rates.
- On Friday Standard & Poor’s downgraded the city’s bond rating. It cited an “ongoing structural imbalance and heavy reliance on non-recurring revenues” such as the parking meter fund.
- Tuesday morning (today) Rahm Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman he would support proposals that would eliminate ward based garbage collection and other proposals that could lead to savings estimated at $65 million annually. As noted previously, Schulter had opposed this plan, even cutting short a vacation to vote against a proposal by Daley earlier this year.
In the comments The Bulldog has listed Pawar’s unedited reply. There you can see the questions put to the aldermen, but not answered by them. Directly below, a graphic of the proposed savings listed by the Chicago Inspector General and the Civic Federation.
Beyond that, on our Facebook page is a tab for suggestions. You can use it to give your suggestions on resolving the city’s budget issue.