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Daley Unleashes Final Budget on Chicago

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 14, 2010 2:00PM

Much hay was made in the news yesterday on Mayor Daley's 2011 municipal budget, including headlines heralding his ability to "balance" said budget without "raising taxes." Unfortunately for Chicagoans, neither is true.

In his budget address to the city council, (PDF, here) Daley hit on the consequences of the devastating recession that, while technically over, still hurts many Chicagoans that are struggling to get by. Noting that "next year in Chicago we had projected a deficit of over $650 million," Daley points out that revenues have begun to increase again, although slowly, and not fast enough to maintain the city's spending. He also said that "because we've managed prudently and creatively," the city's budget, Chicago hasn't had to raise property taxes, and that his $16 billion budget will not "increase in taxes, fines or fees next year, including property taxes.” Using a mix of raiding the proceeds from the Skyway and parking meter lease deals and "surplus" TIF funds, the mayor proposed to wipe out the projected deficit, delivering a budget that, at least in appearance, is balanced.

What's left unsaid in the mayor's attempt to simultaneously save his legacy while screwing his successor, is that he really doesn't have a lot of say over property taxes going up or down, and that regardless of what happens, the state equalization factor in 2011, if it holds true to form this year, will increase, causing property taxes to skyrocket, meaning that they're going to increase in 2011 regardless. As far as reigning in the costs of city workers and services, the mayor took a decidedly retail approach, saying that he will ask the General Assembly to impose pension cuts on newly-hired police and firefighters, similar to what city workers in the Laborers and Municipal Employees pension funds face. He is also proposing to consolidate several city departments and cut more employees, while looking to privatize animal care and control, waste and recycling collection efforts, fleet management and lakefront festivals, including the Taste.

The entire 53 page PDF of the proposed budget is posted on the Chicago City Clerk's website, if you've got a head for numbers and stomach for bullshit.