Mayor Lori Lightfoot took the opportunity to “transform Chicago once in a lifetime” on Monday.
The mayor has proposed a $ 16.7 billion 2022 budget that raises Chicago property tax by $ 76.5 million, but uses one-time revenue, debt refinancing և $ 1.9 billion federal aid snowmobile to play Santa Claus, making a number of strategic investments. :
In a one-hour budget address to City Council, a passionate Lightfoot said that the “hardships, pain, and even deaths” that Chicagoans have endured over the past 18 months are no less demanding.
“It marked the beginning of an insidious global epidemic, the first of its kind in 100 years, which brought with it an epidemic of economic decline, civil unrest, and unacceptable levels of violence,” he said.
“But we must be honest in acknowledging that the faults revealed during the epidemic were in fact decades of persistent, deliberate action that began in our earliest days as a union,” complicated over time and improved. “
Lightfoot said nothing of the “big, bold bold moves” was needed to close the gaps between black and white wealth, jobs and 15-year “life expectancy” gaps. He spoke of the “rampant, uncontrolled use of heroin by opioids”, which left parts of the city “resembling the scene of the Walking Dead”.
“We must commit to be deliberate, but in a completely different way than in our past,” said the mayor.
“We must be committed to the new set of truths, starting with the truth that justice and inclusion must be at the heart of all our work, that no one can be left behind during our recovery from a pandemic. »
For the second year in a row, Lightfoot’s budget is balanced with one-off revenues.
It includes savings of $ 131.4 million through “improved fiscal management”; $ 25 million “sweeping aging accounts”; $ 21.6 million in health savings; Lower-than-expected spending on the new eight-year police contract – $ 46.2 million – $ 62.6 million from “improved revenue forecasts”.
It calls for the city to refinance $ 1.2 billion in debt, use $ 234 million of $ 254 million in savings to fund a four-year backlog of Chicago police. The remaining $ 22 million will help close the $ 733 million budget gap.
Again, the mayor’s plan to eliminate its own budget deficit includes the cost of unloading Chicago public schools.
This time, the CPS will be required to cover $ 75 million in pension costs for school administrators receiving pension vouchers from the City Workers’ Pension Fund.
But the budget also announces a surplus of $ 271.6 million from tax increases, of which $ 150.2 million goes to the CPS and $ 67.6 million to the city’s corporate fund.
In addition to the $ 1.2 billion debt refinancing, it is a financial game developed by Lightfoot to circumvent the US Treasury Department’s ban on the use of federal COVID-19 bailout funds.
Instead, the mayor plans to use $ 782 million in aid to replace the revenue lost due to the epidemic in 2020 և 2021 և to provide $ 152.4 million in stimulus in 2023 to replace the revenue. Another $ 385 million in federal COVID-19 assistance will be used to bankroll “substantially existing new programs” next year.
The inflow of federal funds will free up corporate fund revenues to repay $ 465 million, which owes a “generation of taxpayers” to cancel plans to borrow $ 500 million more.
Chicago property tax collection will increase by $ 76.5 million to $ 1.71 billion. In addition to that amount, all of the $ 300 million will support the pension funds of the city’s four employees.
That includes $ 22.9 million for an automatic escalator related to the consumer price index. $ 25 million to fund Lightfoot’s $ 3.7 billion capital plan in 2022; $ 28.6 million from “new ownership”.
During a meeting with the Chicago Sun-Times, Zoom told Lightfoot that there would be no “new vote” to raise property taxes, noting that both the capital plan and the automatic escalator were approved last year.
He rejected the Aldi Center’s request. Brian Hopkins (2nd) canceled the automatic escalator at a time when besieged property owners are already shocked by the celestial revaluations.
“Many of these arguments were raised last year. “And we got a majority – the members of the city council, who look at it not as a short-term fix, but as something we needed to get on the path to structural balance,” said the mayor.
“That heavy vote made this year’s budget, frankly, the 2023 budget, much easier. … Structural solutions are the way we are going to get out of the longer-term fiscal mess we inherited. ”
Last year, Lightfoot balanced its budget by partially eliminating 614 vacancies at the Chicago Police Department and reducing CPD wear and tear.
This year, he is proposing to increase police spending by $ 189 million to $ 1.9 billion, in part by expanding the officer health program and creating a full-time recruiting team that will travel to countries looking for candidates.
“It would be better for us if that funding were more focused on mental health and the prevention of homelessness,” Ald said. Andre Vazquez (40th).
Ald. Anthony Napolitano, 41, who has many CPD officers in the Far Northwest Side department, has asked Lightfoot to fill some police vacancies, even if it means finding a giant place to hold double recruits for police recruits.
“It simply came to our notice then. We are most sorry there. We need more officers. “In order to fight crime, you have to show some strength in the streets,” Napolitano said.
“It’s not even a question. It must be done. Wait until you see pensions over the next few months և next year. It will make people dizzy. ”
Center Ald. Brendan Riley, 42, said: “It’s crystal clear that we need more police on the street, especially overnight.”
“I am pushing for a police budget that compensates for the 614 officer vacancies eliminated in last year’s budget (which I voted against),” Riley wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.
“I plan to raise more funding to speed up police recruitment and training to add more officers to the streets. And I am pushing to fund the repair and ongoing maintenance of the CPD’s second police helicopter.
Lightfoot said his goal is to fill the existing 1,000 police vacancies and work better as he retires.
“Our challenge is not vacancies. The challenge is that, frankly, we get the butt of the seats to pass the test. “And then when we get them to the academy, make sure they stay as police officers here in Chicago, go to the suburbs or go to work in other cities, like the fire department,” Lightfoot said.
“The day you passed the police investigation, 20,000 people showed up. You will not see it anywhere in the country. So we need to do more creative things, really think about ways we can get people to come and pass the test. ”
Lightfoot increased its budget address for a month to coincide with the announcement of its stimulus plan.
The total amount of new investments is $ 1.2 billion. That includes $ 567.6 million in federal aid and $ 660 million in Lightfoot 2022 capital issue bonds.
The angle includes: $ 202 million to reduce homelessness. New $ 52 million investment in mental health initiatives. $ 150 million for youth programs; և $ 85 million for violent intervention.
To combat global warming, the mayor’s budget plans to plant 75,000 new trees. To reduce poverty, he offers a one-year trial of a guaranteed minimum income of $ 31.5 million, which was defended by his former leader, Spanish-speaking group leader Ilbert Villegas (31st). Under the Under plan, $ 500 checks will be sent to Chicago’s most needy families, 5,000 without a line. Lightfoot recognized it as the largest financial assistance program of its kind in the country.
“Imitation is the greatest snow of flattery,” said Villegas.
Noting that he introduced such an order six months ago, Villegas said. Although I think he puts it in the budget, I wonder why it took so long. “Especially when the SC group wanted the compensation to go first.”
Lightfoot said the compensation “refers to correcting historical mistakes, we do it” with guaranteed minimum income and other incentive costs.
The budget also includes a modest increase in council committee budgets, several new or expanded programs to ease the burden on low-income Chicagoans due to debt և bankruptcy due to over-reliance on city ticket revenues.
This includes so-called “fix-it tickets” in case of certain compliance violations, such as invalid or missing city stickers 50 50% discount on low-income driver tickets.
And there is a $ 20 million Artist Relief and Works Fund, including $ 10 million in aid, a corresponding $ 10 million “revenue stream” from the corporate budget that “will no longer be subject to the whims of the hotel tax.”
During the one-hour budget message, Lightfoot was the size of a religious speech. He spoke of how Moses had gathered the Israelites before they reached the Promised Land after “40 years of torment” and said that these struggles “are not like what we have endured in the last 18 months – famine, plague – death. »
“Just as Moses told his people that they are ‘doomed to repeat’ the terrible ordeal until a new, more united generation emerges, so Chicago must unite with a new, fairer future,” the mayor said.
“Our people need us, the most important thing, we owe it to them, to ourselves, to future generations, to take advantage of the opportunities we have at this moment. “Learn the lessons of history, do not repeat the mistakes of the past,” he said.
Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, 35, chairman of the Socialist Commission, attributed to Lightfoot a “copy” of the Chicago rescue plan proposed by the United Working Group and other progressive groups.
“We have asked for $ 230 million to provide affordable housing, which is what he includes in this budget. We requested significant investments in mental health services in the և 911 alternative system. It’s in this budget, “said Ramirez-Rosa.
Far south Ald. Anthony Bill (9th), one of the critics of Lightfoot’s most influential city council, called Monday’s budget address “nothing more than a campaign speech.”
“How do you create all these new programs?” How will it be stable in the near future? When all the federal money is used up, what? We will keep the bag in our hands. “