City Council unanimously passes $8.2 billion budget, including new taxes and fees

CHICAGO -- The Chicago City Council voted unanimously to pass Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $8.2 billion 2017 budget Wednesday.

It was expected to pass because City Council has already made tough decisions to cover the city's pension crisis, including increasing property taxes and adding another charge to your water bill.

"Yes it was kind of quick and quiet but what preceded it was a lot of what you would want out of a public debate over five years," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

New fee increases

For taxpayers, the hardest pill to swallow in the budget may be a nearly 30 percent increase on water and sewer bills. The hike will be phased in over four years, and is expected to raise nearly $240 million to help shore up the municipal workers pension fund.

But the big impact to taxpayers will come in the form of a tiered increase in property taxes to fund police and fire pensions approved by the Council last year.

Other new fees include:

  • 7-cent fee for all plastic AND paper bags to encourage people to bring reusable bags to the grocery store.
  • 3.5 percent amusement tax for tickets to concerts, sporting events and musicals.
     

Parking

Expect to pay more to park in Chicago, including at the airport and in Wrigleyville:

  • Drivers will now have to pay $14 dollars an hour to use commercial loading zones downtown.
  • Parking rates for 1,500 spaces will also double from $2 to $4 an hour, including about 700 spaces around Wrigley Field on game days.
  • Airport parking at both O`Hare and Midway will increase as well.
  • The city is also adding nearly 700 more parking meters in the loop and city neighborhoods.

Wrigleyville residents aren't surprised about the increases.

"Parking around us is ridiculous; you've got residents selling parking for$40-$50 a game, and then parking for us gets hectic; we have to park a mile away," said Wrigleyville resident Greg Swets.

New programs and police

After a record number of shootings this year, this budget calls for the hiring of 545 more police officers to be on pace to meet the mayor's goal of hiring a total of 970 new officers by 2018. A three-year, $36 million mentoring programs will also provide new opportunities for at-risk youth in Chicago.

Still, some Chicagoans are skeptical.

"The mayor has really put us at risk in terms of crime rates in the city in the way he has mismanaged the police department over the last few years. we know we're in a situation we need this small amount of officers to help," said 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack.

 

"We're not done; we have more work ahead, we should take note of the progress and use that as encouragement to do more work in fixing our fiscal position," Mayor Emanuel said.