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Breaking The Bank: Daley Slashes For 2010 Budget

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Oct 21, 2009 2:00PM

Mayor Daley, making the sad trombone face; Photo by our old friend, WBEZ's Kate Gardiner

We're a short time away from hearing all about Mayor Daley's budget for 2010 - hint: it won't be pretty! - and Daley continues to slash at the budget like Jason Voorhees so that he can avoid raising taxes to help fill a budget gap in the neighborhood of $500 million. Items have been trickling out in the days ahead of his presentation to the City Council and now we've got a clearer idea of what's going to be cut. We already know that the city's non-union workers will be asked to take nearly five work weeks worth of furlough days (24 to be exact), that there will be no cost of living increases in wages, and at least three more reduced services days. Daley has also suggested that while money from the Skyway lease will remain untouched, he could borrow heavily from the parking meter lease to help cover the budget gap.

Now we're learning about additional potential cuts including a possible end to the popular Venetian Night, a large cut in the tourism budget, and even hacking away the Outdoor Film Festival. Venetian Night was started years ago by Daley's father, Mayor Richard J.; Cindy Gatziolis, spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Special Events said, "Operational costs exceeded the sponsorship revenue." Operational costs include $100,000 for fireworks and $200,000 for security at the event. Other suggested cuts include trimming Jazz Fest from three to two days and relocating other music fests - like Country Music Fest, Celtic Fest and Viva Latin - from Grant Park to Millennium Park.

The City Council is already making a bit of noise about some of the proposed cuts. Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) took issue with the cuts being made suggested for the tourism budget, saying, "We need to keep attracting people to Chicago. Wasn't that the real purpose of [bidding for] the Olympics?" And Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) one of the few consistent voices of reason on the City Council - as well as one of only five aldermen who opposed the parking meter lease - said of Daley's suggestion to take money from that fund, "If the parking meter money is depleted within five years, then what happens for the next 70 years of that contract?" Still, in spite of these and previous protests from the Council, we're sure Daley will still have plenty of support to cram the budget through.

For those of you stuck in the office with a hankering to follow along with the budget presentation, our pals at the Windy Citizen will be hosting a "viewing party" starting at 10 a.m.