UPDATED 11/17/11 9:53 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2012 budget was approved unanimously on Wednesday, and now, he is wasting no time in executing the budget and collecting new fees.
As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, the mayor has called for a meeting first thing Thursday morning with members of his cabinet and department heads, where he says he will discuss “his expectations for budget implementation.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CITY’S BUDGET? LEAVE A COMMENT IN COMMENTS SECTION BELOW.
The mayor is setting up a reporting process that will hold his own administration accountable for making good on the changes in the budget, and is demanding monthly updates from each department on its progress.
One of the Cabinet members who came in Thursday, Emanuel’s comptroller, says he’s collected nearly a third of the $3 million owed by city employees alone.
“We’ve collected around $1.1 million of that debt,” Amer Ahmed said.
The $6.3 billion budget passed without dissent on Wednesday. In the discussion of the budget before Wednesday’s vote, Ald. Ed Burke (14th), who led the so-called “Stop Rahm” movement during the mayoral race earlier this year, told his fellow aldermen, “Let us give this mayor a vote of confidence as he leads this city.”
Burke urged other aldermen to vote for the budget, even with its higher taxes and fees, layoffs, and cuts in emergency dispatch hours and library hours. But it wasn’t just because Burke agreed with the plan.
“I do have a selfish motive – Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I’ve entered into a wager with the mayor that indeed this body will give him a unanimous vote on this first budget. Let’s give him that unanimous vote so he’ll pay off on his wager.”
The mayor did not explain why he bet against himself, but of course, he ended up losing the bet.
Other aldermen said the cooperation in the budget stands as proof that the days of the “rubber stamp” City Council are over.
City Council Budget Committee Chairman Carrie Austin (34th) has always bristled at the label, but she was even more resolute after the contentious budget ordinance passed.
“Not 50 of us are we a rubber stamp. It’s a give and take. That was what the mayor said that he would do, and it was our intentions to hold him to that,” Austin said.
Budget Vice Chairman Brendan Reilly (42nd) noted that Mayor Emanuel had made major changes in the budget plan, at aldermanic insistence.
“I voted on four budgets in the previous administration,” Reilly said. “I can tell you, all of my colleagues that came in in the freshman class of ’07 have recognized a dramatic difference in the way this administration is doing business with members of the City Council, and I think the way you get to a 50-nothing vote is collaboration, respect and compromise.”
But one Chicago family told CBS 2’s Mike Parker that implementing the budget has already meant sleepless nights.
Joyce Woodfolk, a retired nurse, said she lies awake at night, worrying about money.
“I’m lucky if I sleep two, three hours at a time,” she said.
Woodfolk and her husband, Bill, a retired department store buyer, are living off Social Security payments of a few hundred dollars a month.
“We have to pay more for our water, we have to pay more for our sticker … and we don’t have a way to increase our income, but yet the City Council and mayor have a way to increase our expenses,” Bill Woodfolk said.
The relies on $120 per year increases in the average homeowner’s water and sewer bills, $10 to 15 dollar hikes in car and sport-utility vehicle sticker fees, and $480 per year congestion charges for those who park monthly in downtown garages and lots.
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.
The ward-based garbage collection system now in effect will be replaced with a grid-based system.
The budget also raises numerous fines. A ticket for an expired meter will rise from $50 to $60, and blasting the car radio too loud will result in a $750 ticket rather than $500. Fines for illegal possession of spray paint will double to $1,500, and failing to cut high weeds could bring a fine of $1,200 per day.
The budget also slashes 510 middle or senior managers for a savings of $34 million, and cuts 776 vacant positions.