City budget proposal to include parking, hotel fees

October 12, 2011 3:45:54 AM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel presents his first budget proposal Wednesday as he tries to deal with the city's $636 million deficit.

There may be a new sheriff in town, but he's relying on some of the same tactics to tackle the budget as his predecessor. Emanuel is expected to say he has kept his campaign promise to not raise the property, income or sales taxes. But that doesn't mean his bad news budget proposal won't cost you more.

His budget proposal would increase the price you pay to park, own large SUVs, and stay in hotel rooms in Chicago. Some will be called fees instead of taxes, but the end result is the same.

"We're being taxed, whether it's on our property taxes or it's fees. The outcome is the same, taking more of our money that we don't have," said Whitney Queen, Chicago resident.

The police and fire departments won't escape the mayor's budget ax. He will propose closing three district stations, and two detective divisions. City Hall says that will save money and put more officers on the street. The union has a different take.

"We're going to be losing those police officers in a matter of time that once served those communities where those police stations are in," said Mike Shields, Fraternal Order of Police. "I think 911 response time will not be as good."

"The budget I present will make the tough choices and it will be honest with the people of the city of Chicago about those tough choices to put our fiscal house in order," said Emanuel.

Fire department administrations will stop leasing space and move into police headquarters.

Aldermen briefed on the mayor's budget plan also say he'll propose saving money by picking up garbage on a grid-based system as opposed to by ward boundaries.

Even the city's libraries would be impacted. They're currently open just 8 hours a day. Those hours could be shortened again.

"No! Not here. It's used too much. It's always busy,' said Arlene Rosado, library user.

The hard-charging mayor has so far been unable to squeeze big work rule reforms out of city unions. Now, he'll drastically reduce mileage reimbursements city workers receive for driving their own cars. He wants them to take the bus or "L."

The mayor has previously announced he wants to reduce the head tax paid by employers on their workers. He has also suggested lowering the city's share of the sales tax but applying it to many more things.

The public will hear all the details and aldermanic reaction with Emanuel's his first budget as mayor to the City Council Wednesday morning.

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