Mayor Lori Lightfoot holds first budget town hall meeting

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot held her first budget town hall meeting in Chicago Wednesday as she works to fill the city's $838 million budget gap.

The event ran from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Copernicus Center on the Northwest Side. The public forum came about a week after Lightfoot gave her State of the City address and identified an $838 million budget deficit for 2020.

"Why not just be conservative for once and just cut the budget?" one constituent asked.

"There are a lot of good union employees that have worked, and they deserve their fair share," said another.

This was the first of four in September, before the mayor gives her full budget address in mid-October.

"We're actually coming to you to find out what you want to see in your budget and to be up front and transparent about how the dollars are being spent," she said.

"We're hoping to hear that she's taking preservation of affordable housing seriously," Diane Limas, northwest side resident, said before the meeting.

The mayor said she would turn to Springfield to try to overhaul the city's pension system, and ask downstate lawmakers for help to create a new tax structure for a Chicago casino in order to attract investors.

But that could be a heavy lift, and if those efforts fail many fear a property tax hike.

"People who are the owners of the homes, some the seniors especially, they don't have any extra income," said Eva Skowronski, northwest side resident.

"I don't know what our health insurance is going to cost us this year," a woman at the forum said. "And my property taxes go up, and it's really emotional and really frustrating."

"One of my top priorities is making sure that low income and working families get relief," Lightfoot said.

The rest of the town halls will be held:

Saturday, September 14 from 9 to 11 a.m.

Roberto Clemente High School, 1147 North Western Avenue

Thursday, September 19 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Southeast United Methodist Youth and Community Center (The Zone), 11731 South Avenue O

Wednesday, September 25 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Linblom Math and Science Academy, 6130 South Wolcott Avenue
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.