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Top 8 Of '08: No. 4 - Budget Crunch

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Dec 30, 2008 8:23PM

Through Wednesday, we're counting down the top 8 local stories that captivated us in 2008.

2008_12_30_budget.JPG One of the year's biggest civic government stories was the big bad budget of '09. While the nation found itself in the throes of an economic crisis, Chicago dealt with its own budget woes. We were warned of the impending budget doomsday during the summer and the struggles to work it out continued throughout the rest of the year. Daley's proposed budget included layoffs and cuts in services (such as garbage pick-up) and led to a standoff with the Unions. Eventually, after grandstanding on both parts, the Mayor and the Unions came to an agreement that would minimize layoffs, but that hardly fixed everything. In an effort to raise more money, Mayor Daley even pushed through bills to privatize Midway Airport and the city's parking meters, which went over really well. This, of course, after Daley announced his 2009 budget would hike certain amusement and parking taxes even further into the stratosphere. With much fanfare, the mayor unveiled his budget and despite cries of "protest" from the City Council, they still passed the budget with only Ald. Billy Ocasio casting a "No" vote. The fun didn't stop there: another means of saving money meant cutting back on snow plowing, leaving side streets untouched and upsetting residents and aldermen alike.

Of course the city wasn't alone. Even agencies like the CTA had to increase fares and explore options such as selling the naming rights to stations. And the state of Illinois had its own budget shortfall that led to, among other things, layoffs and the closing of several state parks.

Yet the City is putting a lot of money into the 2016 Olympic effort as well as spending cash hiring new PR firms and buying 2,000 new SUVs for a police department that actually needed more officers more than anything as crime was on the rise in 2008. So there's still plenty of room for more outrage. The uplifting news? It's only going to get worse before it gets better.

Photo of Mayor Daley contemplating something by Sam Abernethy

No. 8 - Chicago, Cultural Epicenter
No. 7 - Chicago On Trial
No. 6 - Chicago's 2016 Olympic Fever
No. 5 - Chicago's Violent Year