Mayor Brandon Johnson Chicago budget does not include base property tax increase amid $538M gap

Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Mayor Johnson delivers 1st budget address to City Council
Mayor Johnson delivered his 1st budget address to the City Council Wednesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson delivered his first budget address Wednesday.

He said base property taxes will not go up.

However, the city still has to close a $538 million gap. A big strain on the budget is the migrant crisis.

Johnson came into office with big progressive promises. He was elected with an agenda to reopen mental health clinics, help the homeless, put more investments into the South and West Sides, and the list goes on.

Mayor Johnson presented what he said is a balanced budget to members of City Council.

Mayor Johnson presented his 1st budget to the City Council.

As he promised during his campaign, he did that by not raising the city's property tax rate, and, according to his budget, by forecasting higher revenue projections for other taxes, increased Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, surplus collection, and what he calls strategic use of the city's fund balance.

"That means dollars that normally go to connected developers will instead go towards the things people like to see in their neighborhoods," explained Mayoral Floor Leader Ald. Carlos Ramirez Rosa.

Other aldermen are a bit more skeptical about the funding sources.

(SOT@11:51:3-Ald. Walter Burnett-27th Ward)

"They must have the money coming from somewhere else that we don't know about yet, and I'm waiting for that," said 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett.

Johnson's first budget closes the $538 million projected budget gap without tax or fee hikes or layoffs. Yet, the budget calls for millions of dollars in new investments.

"I'm proud this budget makes strategic investments in people without raising base property taxes," Johnson said. "We are dedicating more than 76 million towards towards youth jobs and programming in the budget."

With the city caring for more than 18,000 migrants right now, the mayor said he plans to increase staffing within the Department of Family and Support Services and Office of Emergency Management and Communications to help manage them.

"What current residents need and deserve from our city is not the same as what new arrivals need in this moment. But we must meet all demands if we truly love all people," Johnson said.

Regarding safety, Mayor Johnson's budget invests more than $100 million in anti-violence programs, and more. It creates 100 additional detective positions in CPD, and adds 400 new civilian positions to the department to support officers - but does not address the vacancies of over a thousand officers.

As far as Chicago's pension problem, Mayor Johnson said the city will continue to make advanced payments into the funds.

Mental health is also a big priority for the mayor. Johnson seeks to double staff for non-police 911 response teams and create two new mental health clinics. In addition, the budget calls for millions for the homeless, anti-violence programs and a new city department of the environment.

Other city council members also expressed concern over the proposed plan.

"How do you wipe out over 500 million in deficit and create over 300 million in spending without additional revenue?" asked 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale.

Over the next couple of weeks, the budget will be analyzed through department and public hearings.

The City Council will vote on the budget in November.