Securing Our Financial Future
On Wednesday, October 28th, I voted in favor of the City of Chicago 2016 Budget. I want to assure you that I did not cast this vote lightly. This Budget included raising property taxes for all homeowners and business owners in Chicago, which was a difficult decision.
During the Budget process, I attended every Budget Hearing and listened to each Department explain their budgets. I, along with my colleagues on the City Council, asked questions and challenged department heads on why and where they were spending money. I also talked to residents throughout the Ward about their concerns. Whether it was Ward Night, community forums, my Aldermanic Quarterly Meeting, telephone calls or on the street. I listened to you and I appreciated everyone’s participation.
The City has a moral obligation and a legal obligation to fund the City’s pensions. As it relates to the Police and Fire Pension, the City must pay the Pension $544 million dollars, otherwise the State will withhold that amount from the City’s portion of the Sales Tax. If the State did that, it would create a $544 million City budget shortfall. If that happened, the City would face the difficult decision of closing firehouses and police stations and cutting back on City services and laying off City workers. I do not believe this is the time to be cutting City jobs.
This 2016 Budget includes more than $170 million in savings, reforms and efficiencies. I have been a vocal advocate for more police protection, and the Mayor agreed to move 319 police officers back on to the beat and out of the office. We will also be adding 10 additional tree-trimming crews; many of you have seen the increased service this past week. We will be paving 300 miles of neighborhood and arterial streets in 2016; while serving 27,000 youth with afterschool programs.
The increased tax levy to pay for Police and Fire pensions will cost our property owners about 12% more than the current 2015 estimated tax bill. I encourage you to confirm you are taking advantage of the appropriate exemptions, such as Homeowners and Senior Freeze. Please contact my office at 773-254-6677 for any assistance.
We will also be working with Commissioners Larry Rodgers and Mike Cabonargi from the Cook County Board of Review to host workshops on appealing your taxes. One workshop will be held TONIGHT, November 4th at 6:00pm in the St. Gabriel’s school hall, 45th & Wallace and the other on Monday, November 16th at 6:30pm at the Bridgeport Art Center, 35th & Racine. For more information, visit our website at ward11.org or contact my office at 773-254-6677.
I appreciate everyone’s support and help during this Budget season. I look forward to serving you and advocating on your behalf.
On behalf of myself and my family, I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and look forward to seeing you soon.