CHICAGO (CBS) — A “Good News” budget.
That’s how one financial watchdog is describing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2017 spending plan, which includes no major tax increases and millions to hire new cops.
CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports from City Hall.
“Today, I am presenting you a budget unlike any other we have seen in recent memory,” Emanuel said.
It’s different, because almost $800 million in property tax and water tax hikes have finally reduced the city’s red ink from underfunded pensions.
“Five years ago, Chicago was on the financial brink. Today, Chicago is back on solid ground,” Emanuel told listeners.
The budget spends $9.8 billion, half-a-billion more than last year, Including $53 million to hire and train 529 new cops.
And money from the city’s sale of a Goose Island vehicle garage will modernize Chicago’s 311 system.
“Chicagoans will be able to tweet and text the system, making it completely interactive,” Emanuel says.
About $25 million in new revenue comes from new fees, including 7-cents-each on plastic shopping bags.
“It’s showing progress. They’ve seen some natural revenue growth. It’s showing some efficiencies, so the civic federation’s reaction to this budget is very positive,” the Civic Federation’s Laurence Msall says.
The mayor wants city Treasurer Kurt Summers to manage a new, $100 million fund to support small business in struggling neighborhoods, though some aldermen are skeptical.
“How do you define that neighborhood? Who are these financial managers? What the criteria they’re using? The devil is in the details,” says 35th Ward Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa
And still others worry about Chicago’s staggering debt.
“When you look at what we’ve borrowed since 2012, it’s well over $17 billion. We’ve been borrowing at a rate that doesn’t match the rhetoric,” 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack says.
Mayor Emanuel is taking credit for tackling the pension mess…a mess he didn’t create. And he took the political heat for imposing record tax hikes to solve it.
But the mayor’s borrowing also puts the city in further debt, with enormous debt payments creating another burden on taxpayers.