Chicago: Strapped for Cash Or Just Cooking the Books?
The recent economic crisis has exacerbated what was already becoming a huge problem for the city of Chicago: our municipal budget deficit. Barrels of ink and gigabytes of pixels have been published about both the shocking cuts and tax hikes needed and enacted to close the city's gaping budget hole; almost as much has been written about Daley's hoarding of tax dollars in the city's TIF program. And yesterday the Sun-Time's Fran Spielman ran a piece looking at the $2 million surplus the city had on hand after closing the books on 2009. According to Spielman, that number is significantly higher than the $200,000 the city had left at the end of 2008, but it's hardly enough shore up the half-billion dollar (and growing) budget deficit the city is caught up in this year.
While the Sun-Times analyzes the consequences of the cutbacks the city has made as a result of the budget deficit, Progress Illinois runs down five options for balancing the city's budget while making TIFs more transparent and accountable. But whether Mayor Daley actually takes this advice or not is an entirely different matter. Daley will release his preliminary 2011 budget later today. Whether TIFs, taxes, city services or the budget hole will be adequately addressed remains to be seen.