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Budget Watchdog Surprised To Learn Daley Borrowed Millions To Run Millennium Park

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A budget watchdog group said it’s surprised – and troubled – to learn former Mayor Richard M. Daley borrowed millions of dollars to pay for day-to-day operations at Millennium Park.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the Daley administration took out nearly $30 million in loans to run the park, from the year after it opened, until Daley left office.

Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation, said the deal went unnoticed until recent city budget hearings.

“Because of the way that the money for the bonds is put into the city budget, it was difficult to find it … to find the exact use and purpose of that borrowing,” he said.

Msall said borrowing money to pay for day-to-day operating expenses at Millennium Park has cost the city millions in interest payments for years to come, on top of continuing operating expenses.

“In effect, the city’s paying the costs this year of running Millennium Park, and still paying the costs of previous years, because it has to pay the interest on the money that was borrowed,” he said.

Msall said, if the City Council had the independent budgeting office it is scheduled to get next year, the borrowing might have been caught.

The Emanuel administration has halted such borrowing for day-to-day costs at the park.