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City: 2010 Budget Will be Worse

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 31, 2009 3:40PM

Chicago's Chief Financial Officer Gene Saffold is predicting that the city's budget hole will be worse next year. This is after the city burns through a new $320 million "rainy day fund" created from the parking meter lease. Saffold predicted a deficit of upwards of half a billion dollars next year, citing declining tax revenue and increased wages, compared against a projected budget of $6 billion. (Is this the first time the city has engaged in long-range financial planning? Publicly, at least?) While raising taxes is a last resort, according to Saffold, "nothing is ruled out at this point," Saffold told the Tribune. "The mayor has instructed us not to look at property taxes as we move forward in 2010."

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall told the Sun-Times, "There are no obvious sources of revenue that have not already been tapped," and that "you have to make very severe and structural cuts in the city's operating budget. City government is going to be forced to re-invent itself in the way it delivers services and eliminates services not critical. ... Police and fire have to be part of it."

If the numbers Saffold cites are correct, they could jeopardize the city's plans to fill over 500 police vacancies, and replace almost 900 officers that could be enticed into retirement. "They recognize the savings between the salaries of potential retirees and new hires. And they assured us their intent was to fill those vacancies," said Mark Donahue, president of the Chicago police union. 46th Ward Alderman Helen Shiller told the Tribune that she "appreciated" that the city's projections weren't as "rosy" as last year's, when the Daley administration overestimated revenues.