Emanuel issues dire warning during budget address

Mayor Rahm Emanuel today unveiled a nearly $7 billion budget for 2014, but also focused on a year from now and warned what will happen if the city doesn’t fix its pension system by then.

The mayor said the the city council will be back early next year hashing out a budget that will double city property taxes or eliminate vital services if the Illinois General Assembly fails to pass pension reform for Chicago soon.

A plan put forward by Emanuel’s chief Springfield ally, Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago would require a series of small city property tax increases starting in 2018.

Emanuel plans to balance the budget by hiking the tax on cigarettes and cable TV.   He also proposes cutting spending and is hoping the economy improves.

Day-to-day spending on city operations would go up by $127.4 million, which is an increase of 4 percent. The mayor said he is asking for no increase in property, sales or fuel taxes.

The Emanuel administration expects to collect $101 million more from speed camera fines and sales, real estate transfer, hotel and other taxes than it predicted it would just three months ago when the mayor’s financial aides first declared that the overall 2014 budget shortfall would be $339 million. The more optimistic revenue estimates allowed the mayor to fill nearly 30 percent of his budget hole in one fell swoop.

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