Mayor makes case for budget plan

BY HAL DARDICK AND BILL RUTHHART – CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“Our greatest financial challenge today is the exploding cost of our unpaid pensions,” Emanuel said. “It is a big dark cloud that hangs over the rest of our city’s finances.”

The mayor said the city can’t cut its way to find the money for increasing pension payments. To do so, he said, would mean cuts of 2,500 police officers, or about 20 percent of the force. He also said 48 fire stations — about half the city’s total — would have to be shut down while laying off 2,000 firefighters, or 40 percent of the department.

Other services, including street repair and rodent abatement, also would go by the wayside, he said.

“In short, if we were to fund our pensions with cuts alone, our city services would become unreliable. Our city would become unlivable. And that would be totally unacceptable,” Emanuel said, delivering his sales pitch for a property tax hike to politically wary aldermen.

Additionally, Emanuel proposed a new $9.50-a-month garbage-hauling fee to raise $62.7 million, a combination of ride-sharing and taxi fee hikes to generate $48.6 million, building permit fee increases to bring in $13 million and a new tax on electronic cigarettes to capture $1 million. That money would go toward reducing the city’s year-to-year operating shortfall. read more….