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Breaking The Bank: Daley's Budget On The Table

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Oct 22, 2009 2:00PM

Mayor Daley's budget for 2010 has been presented and, as expected, there were no new taxes but lots of cuts. There will also be much taken from the parking meter lease fund. In fact, by this time next year, don't expect much to be left from the $1.15 billion/75-year deal, the deal we may have gotten hosed on. Having already spent $400 million of that money this year, according to the Tribune, Daley is looking to spend an additional $600 million of that money in 2010. We're no math geniuses and even we know that doesn't leave a whole heck of a lot left in the pot for the remaining 70+ years of the lease, something that concerned Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) earlier this week. All told, Daley claims that there will still be around $700 million left in reserve funds - the combination of the Skyway and parking meter leases - next year. A cut in the city's tourism budget also raised eyebrows. And besides the cuts to entertainment and furlough days for non-union employees and elimination of vacant jobs, there are smaller cuts, too, such as the scaling back of the city's recycling program.

The City Council is slated to vote on the budget December 2 and while there have been some aldermen who have showed vocal opposition to Mayor Daley over the last year, we don't expect all that much opposition to this budget. With the drive towards the 2011 elections picking up steam, no one is going to want to suggest any new taxes.

What are others saying? In an editorial, the Sun-Times agrees with Daley's decision to take the cash from the parking meter deal to cover the budget gap because we have no other recourse. The Tribune Editorial Board, however, feels quite differently, saying:

Yes, it's raining. And Daley says we need to use our rainy-day money.

We could endorse that if Daley could look past a temporary revenue trough to a healthy economic rebound. If he planned to take a modest slice of the leasing revenues and to get past a tough year, and then restore the money to the endowment.

But the effects of this recession appear likely to linger. And the extent of this spend-down of Chicago's endowment is alarming.

And, as always, the guys over at the Chicago Reader have a bevy of great information. Mick Dumke fact-checks Daley's speech and then joins up with Ben Joravsky for a must-read look at the city's shadow budget - a smaller pool of taxpayer money worth roughly one-sixth of the official lcity budget.