Emanuel announces $75M in budget cuts

May 17, 2011 4:52:56 PM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to cut $75 million from the city of Chicago's budget Tuesday.

The mayor made the annoucement at the Department of Fleet Management on the city's North Side. Emanuel - who arrived in a motorcade that now features a Ford Expedition SUV instead of a Daley-style Crown Victoria sedan - outlined 10 ways he planned to reduce spending, including better use of state and federal grants and freezing non-essential contracts. Emanuel also said he would cut the city's senior management payroll by 10 percent.

"My commissioners will be able to realize these savings either by lowering the salaries or by reducing the number of senior staff positions. Their choice," said Emanuel.

The mayor ordered city department heads to reduce their spending by 10 percent within the next 60 days.

"They will use their judgment of how best to do it, but the 10 percent is non- negotiable," said Emanuel.

Other savings will include $3.5 million by consolidating certain functions across departments; $6.5 million by reducing holdings, vehicle usage and associated energy costs; and over $20 million by freezing or eliminating non-essential contracts for legal and professional services, equipment rentals and supplies.

"The city spends over $5 million a year in office supplies and stationery. That would be an example where there's a real opportunity for the city to save money," said Alex Holt, budget director.

Holt projects the 2012 deficit will range between $587 and $700 million.

The mayor said the city could save $5 million this year by making sure street repairs do not happen before sewers are repaired underground. Then Emanuel said the city could save the most money this year - $31.2 million - by correcting what he called the Daley administrations "bad management" of federal and state grant programs.

"When the city mismanages or does not use the grant money, taxpayers end up footing the bill for what should have been tax dollars and not taxpayer funded programs," Emanuel said.

Emanuel says the cuts are the groundwork for an even bigger spending reductions next year.

"These $75 million-worth of immediate savings to the 2011 budget are only the beginning. They pave the way to a leaner budget for the 2012 fiscal year," he said.

Earlier in the day, Emanuel greeted commuters at the 95th Street "L" stop.

"I made a commitment that if I won that on the first day I got sworn in I would come back to 95th and Dan Ryan," said Emanuel. "The most important thing for me is to not only thank the people I've met during the campaign but remember their voices and concerns in office."

It was his sixth morning there since last October, and every time, Emanuel said, he's heard Chicagoans express the same concerns.

"Safer streets, stronger schools, stable city finances so we can attract the jobs and businesses of the future," said Emanuel.

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