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Mayor Emanuel’s Budget Plan Advances

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Mayor Emanuel addresses reporters Friday in Chicago. (CBS)

Mayor Emanuel addresses reporters Friday in Chicago. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2012 budget has cleared a significant hurdle on its way to an expected full City Council approval next week.

As WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, there were almost no discouraging words.

To be sure, some aldermen are concerned about increasing residential water rates and higher downtown parking fees. Still, the City Council Budget and Finance committees moved Mayor Emanuel’s budget plan forward without dissent.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

Budget Vice-Chairman Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) would rather the so-called “congestion tax” on downtown parking would be applied only during the day, but his colleagues may not feel so strongly.

“It is a substantial source of revenue for the city – close to $28 million annually – so I think many of my colleagues are resigned to the fact there will be a parking tax,” Reilly said.

Finance Committee Chairman Ald. Edward Burke (14th) expects easy final passage on the Nov. 16.

“If it doesn’t pass unanimously, it’ll pass overwhelmingly,” Burke said.

Burke says Emanuel kept his promise to treat the aldermen as partners.

Emanuel has made some revisions to his original plan. Rather than make steep cuts to the Chicago Public Library system, Emanuel proposed raising city sticker fees for all vehicles by $10 or $15 a year. Cars would pay $85, while larger SUVs would pay $135.

Originally, Emanuel wanted to impose a steep increase on larger vehicles only.

Some staff positions and library hours that had been slated for cuts will now be saved under the plan. Hours would only be cut on Mondays and Fridays when students are in school.

The budget plan also calls for closing three police stations – the Wood (13th), Belmont (19th) and Prairie (21st) districts, and combining some duplicative functions of the Police and Fire departments.

Water rates will be doubled in an effort to fund overdue infrastructure upgrades, and the ward-based garbage collection system now in effect will be replaced with a grid-based system.

Cuts will also be coming to the city’s workforce. The budget slashes 510 middle or senior managers for a savings of $34 million, and cuts 776 vacant positions.

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