Emanuel talks budget with Chicagoans online, in person

September 28, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Last year, Mayor Emanuel held small, in-person and online meetings to get input from residents. This year, he's doing the same.

"We're gonna invest in what I think are the essential public infrastructure to allow small business and families to grow," Mayor Emanuel said.

This year, city hall's deficit is projected to be in the range of $300 million. The mayor says the estimated 2013 deficit is smaller because of structural changes made a year ago and an improving economy that increased tax revenues.

"It's doable. But we have to be willing to name the elephants in the room," Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said.

A new report by Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson says Chicago's budget could be balanced without new taxes or reduced services...if among other moves the mayor cuts more middle managers...and challenges union contracts, including for police and firefighters.

"We're not saying do one thing or another with respect to all of this. What we're saying is its ripe for fresh eyes and a new examination," Joseph Ferguson said.

"Some of his ideas touch collective bargaining agreements. You have to work those out and negotiate those," Mayor Emanuel said.

On another front, the mayor expressed concern that the Chicago Public School system's debt was downgraded by Moody's Investors Service. He also said signing a new teachers union contract that ensured a longer school day was more important.

"We're going to continue to make changes that are necessary to make sure our fiscal house gets in order, but I could not put the fiscal house ahead of the educational challenges for our children," Mayor Emanuel said.

The mayor still has not said how the school system will pay the additional $295 million price tag for the new teachers union contract. The district has a projected $1 billion deficit for next year.

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