* Our quote of the week is found in a Sun-Times story about an aldermanic revolt against Mayor Daley’s proposed tax hikes…
Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said he got an e-mail from an angry constituent who warned him to “get your hands out of my pocket, you stooge.”
Why would anyone admit that? I almost spit out my coffee when I read Cardenas’ quote.
* More from the story…
“If this budget would pass right now with all these taxes, I suspect that probably half of the people who voted for it would not be in this Council next time around because this one has eyes. It’s going to walk all over the place,” said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), former chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus. […]
Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) was so desperate for a way out of raising property taxes, he proposed raiding the long-term reserve fund created to shore up the city’s bond rating after the $1.83 billion deal that privatized the Chicago Skyway.
When Johnson warned that the fund was for “major emergencies like catastrophes,” Mell said, “If you talk to some of the people I’ve been talking to — to them, this is a catastrophe.”
* The Tribune has more…
After being grilled by aldermen, [Budget Director Bennett Johnson III] told reporters “we are going to try our best to build consensus” on the best way to balance next year’s budget. He said employee layoffs are an option “if people want to cut services.”
But to wipe out the proposed property-tax increase by cutting payroll would mean 2,160 job cuts, one in five workers who have duties not related to public safety, he said.
“If we want to be like Detroit, Toronto, San Antonio, Jacksonville, all these places where they are cutting services, it is a downward spiral that’s hard to get out of,” Johnson said.
Ah, the ol’ “Detroit card.” I wondered when that one was gonna be played.
* Meanwhile, over at the county, the budget deficit will be smaller than first projected, “just” $230 million, but lots of tax hikes are on the table…
Stroger told commissioners what to expect in a series of meetings Monday. They say going to the store, filling up at the gas pump, parking downtown, talking on the phone or even warming up your furnace could cost more in order to help cover the county’s costs.
Under the proposed budget, property taxes would be hiked to pay for the Forest Preserve District. To pay for county government, Stroger is considering doubling the county gas tax to 12 cents a gallon, doubling the downtown parking tax to about $40 for monthly users and possibly renewing a push for an increased sales tax, just weeks after commissioners shot down a 2 percentage point hike.
Already on the table are hikes to utility and phone bills. “Everything’s on the table,”Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-10th) said.
* Making things worse for Stroger…
Adding a wrinkle to the budget debate is a critical presentation today from the health community concluding that the county hospital system has been so mismanaged, control should be put in the hands of an independent, medical panel.
The Institute of Medicine of Chicago, meanwhile, is circulating a petition in the local health-care community asking the county to shift control of the system immediately to an independent board charged with reversing what the institute calls a “precipitous decline” in services