CHICAGO (CBS) — Facing a $1.2 billion budget shortfall for next year, in large part due the pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot will announce how she plans to close the gap during her second annual budget address on Oct. 21.
The mayor’s budget address initially had been tentatively scheduled for Oct. 14, according to the City Clerk’s office. Lightfoot’s office did not explain the change in schedule, but the move gives her budget team another week to figure out how to eliminate a record shortfall.
In a her budget forecast in August, the mayor said more than $780 million of the city’s budget shortfall was the result of tax revenue that has been lost due to the pandemic. The rest comes largely from the city’s growing pension costs.
Lightfoot repeatedly has said the city’s financial struggles during the pandemic serve as proof Congress must authorize funding to assist state and local governments that have lost significant tax revenue. While the Democratic-controlled House has approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package that would include $436 billion in federal aid to state and local governments, Republicans who control the Senate have pushed back, calling it a “blue state bailout.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the two sides are moving closer to a deal as she continues negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The mayor has acknowledged the city cannot count on Congress to provide the funding Chicago and other municipal governments are hoping for, and said her budget team is preparing for every contingency.
“This year we have come face to face with not only the devastating health consequences of this pandemic, but the economic destruction left in its wake, all while having to navigate the uncertainty around how long this will continue,” Lightfoot said in a statement on Monday. “We must make the difficult decisions under the conditions we are currently in, and this means confronting a potential absence of additional federal funding.”
The mayor will present her budget address at 10 a.m. on Oct. 21.
In August, the city hosted a series of virtual town hall meetings to gather input on the budget to allow Chicago residents to offer input and help craft possible solutions.
Last month, Lightfoot’s chief financial officer, Jennie Bennett, and other advisers also took part in to City Council Finance Committee hearings on potential revenue plans for the budget.
After the mayor presents her budget plan, the City Council Budget Committee will hold a series of hearings with individual city departments and agencies to review their spending plans for 2021. After budget hearings, aldermen also will have the opportunity to offer amendments to the mayor’s budget plan before a final City Council vote in November.