Emanuel Budget Plan: 911 Tax Hike, Higher Uber Fees, Amusement Tax Redo

CHICAGO (CBS) — Attending a concert and hailing an Uber or Lyft would cost you more in Chicago next year under the budget plan Mayor Rahm Emanuel was set to formally present to the City Council on Wednesday.

The mayor has been dropping hints about his 2018 budget proposal for weeks; including an increase in fees on ride hailing services, rewriting the city’s amusement tax, and raising the city’s monthly 911 phone tax.

Emanuel was scheduled to present his budget address at a special City Council meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

The plan to eliminate a $288 million budget shortfall includes boosting the city’s 911 tax from $3.90 to $5 per month, producing about $30 million in new revenue. The money would have to go to upgrades to the city’s 911 system, but would free up $19 million in money from other revenue sources that could now go to other city expenses.

The mayor also has proposed an additional 15 cent fee on trips arranged with ride-hailing apps like Lyft and Uber, to provide about $16 million in extra revenue for the CTA in 2018.

Finally, Emanuel is seeking to overhaul the city’s amusement tax. A 5 percent tax currently is applied to live cultural performances at venues with more than 750 seats. The mayor’s proposal would exempt venues with seats for 1,500 people or fewer. Meantime, the rate would go up from 5 percent to 9 percent for tickets to cultural events at larger venues – the same tax rate applied to sporting events.

The changes to the amusement tax should create about $16 million in new revenue, according to budget documents.

“Kind of post-property tax increase, I think we’re seeing less nickel and diming, because so much of that revenue that the city needed to help pay for the pensions is coming in through the property tax increases,” said Bobby Otter, budget director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a financial think tank.

Emanuel also plans to declare a $167 million surplus in tax increment finance district funds.

The mayor’s office said his budget is an investment in public safety, which will help fulfill his pledge to hire 1,000 new police officers by the end of next year.

The budget plan includes $27 million on Chicago Police Department reforms for enhanced training and community policing, $5 million on new hiring, and $100 million on police overtime – up $20 million from this year.

After Emanuel presents his budget address, the City Council Budget Committee will hold a series of hearings with the city’s department heads before making any changes ahead of a final vote in late November.

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