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City Hall Plundering Meter Funds To Cover Budget

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Jun 26, 2009 9:10PM

2009_06_26_city.jpg Well it's a good thing the City got short-changed on that parking meter deal, eh? Because today the City announced that they're going to have to cover a budget hole that could reach $300 million. The money will come from a "budget stabilization fund" set up following the $1.15 billion deal to privatize the parking meters. But that's not the end of the city's money woes as outlined by the City's Chief Financial Officer Gene Saffold today. The City Council is also closing in on a deal to force non-union workers for the city to take 15 unpaid days off: six unpaid furlough days, six unpaid holidays, and three "reduced-service" days. Per The Trib's Clout Street:

Even with layoffs, union concessions, or some combination of the two, the city still won’t save enough money to close a shortfall of between $250 and $300 million, Saffold said. That’s why the city plans to dip into the "budget stabilization fund," commonly called the rainy day fund, to pay this year’s expenses, Saffold said.

The city already used $100 million in parking meter lease revenue from a “mid-term budget relief fund” to cover last year’s budget shortfall, and it plans to use $50 million of those funds to cover expenses this year. It also is using $86.2 million in revenue from the lease of the Chicago Skyway toll road to balance the budget this year.

Also bolstering city spending is a $126 million downpayment the city kept after a deal to lease Midway Airport for 99 years for $2.5 billion fell through.

Of the city's $1.15 billion in parking money, $400 million has been placed in a long-term reserve fund. But the rest could be spent by the end of 2012 if the economy remains lousy.

But that's not all. The Reader's Mick Dumke - who has become indespinsable lately - outlines another reason the city is struggling with cash: the increase in pay-outs from lawsuits against the City.