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Inspector General Expects Some Budget Proposals To Pass

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Joe Ferguson

Chicago city Inspector General Joe Ferguson. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson says he expects some of the dozens of budget options he outlined in a new report will indeed be embraced by the mayor and City Council this fall.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, proposals for tolls on Lake Shore Drive and a city income tax grabbed the headlines. But Ferguson thinks some of his other proposals will win approval.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

READ Ferguson’s Full Report

“The city uses 200 motor truck drivers that it has absolutely no operational need for, that cost $19 million a year over a 10-year contract,” he said. “That’s $190 million in pure waste.”

Ferguson’s favorite target is one certain job title.

“We actually have a job title in the city – personal computer operator – and we look at that and say broad brush, that’s probably a position we don’t need anymore, because most people actually generate their own documents,” he said.

When Ferguson outlined a range of ideas for cutting the city budget last year, since-retired Mayor Richard M. Daley took issue with some of them, and some aldermen said the list came too late to do anyone much good.

This year, the list is earlier. Aldermen are not questioning why the Inspector General is bothering with budget options, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he wants to change the way things have been done.

But Emanuel already dismissed tax hikes and tolls on Lake Shore Drive as non-starters.

Ferguson’s report suggested a a trip from the north or south end of Lake Shore drive to the Loop would cost $5, while shorter trips would cost lesser amounts. I-Pass-style open road tolling could be installed so as not to disrupt traffic, the report says.

Even after the capital costs of installing toll booths, the report says the move could bring in $8.75 million, given that an estimated 200,000 motorists use Lake Shore Drive each day.

Ferguson’s report also suggests imposing a $5 London-style congestion fee on for driving in the downtown area during rush hours.

As for the city income tax, the proposal suggested it would be 1 percent, for new revenues of $500 million per year. In suggesting the tax, Ferguson’s report points out that the State of Illinois increased its income tax to 5 percent last year, but froze the amount distributed to municipal governments, thus effectively reducing the percentage of the tax that cities receive.

Ferguson is the guest on WBBM Newsradio’s “At Issue” program and you can hear more of his comments Sunday evening at 9:30 p.m.

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