Chicago faces $538M budget shortfall, property tax hike off table, Johnson says

Migrant crisis a contributing factor to the budget gap, Johnson administration says

Sarah Schulte Image
Saturday, September 16, 2023
Chicago faces $538M budget shortfall, migrant crisis contributing to problem
The city of Chicago is facing a massive budget shortfall heading into 2024 of about $538 million. The city's ongoing migrant crisis is contributing to it.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The city of Chicago is facing a massive budget shortfall heading into 2024 of about $538 million, but Mayor Brandon Johnson says he doesn't want to raise property taxes.

The city's ongoing migrant crisis is also contributing to the problem.

Anticipating the influx of migrants will only get worse, the Johnson administration said about a third of the estimated shortfall, or about $200 million, is needed to pay for new arrivals.

"We are just being transparent about the contribution we expect to put in as a city," said Deputy Chief of Staff Christina Pacione-Zayas.

While Johnson is committed to holding the line on a property tax increase, Pacione-Zayas said all other taxing options are on the table to help shore up the budget gap.

"It's really going to be a reconciliation, what can afford to actually cover and where will we have to make some sacrifices," she said.

The Better Government Association examines the city of Chicag's massive $538 million budget shortfall heading into 2024.

The city said there will be some cost savings by replacing private, out-of-state shelter and meal service contracts with local community-based organizations, but housing new arrivals remains a big cost. Pacione Zays said the administration's proposal to move migrants out of police stations into winterized base camps for 1,000 people will cost $5.6 million a month to operate.

"These are not your camping tents with a heater, these are some pretty sophisticated structures that will serve as the first stop once people come into Chicago," she said.

The base camp proposal has been controversial, and some immigrant groups protested the plan Wednesday, but Pacione-Zayas claims several alderman have offered up land in their wards. But, she said, locations must be equitable.

"Just because you live in a dense space doesn't mean there isn't land available," she said.

The city continues to push for more financial help for migrants from the federal government. Mayor Johnson plans to travel to Washington D.C. next Friday.