Chicago City Council OKs Emanuel’s budget with property tax hike

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CHICAGO — Chicago's City Council has approved a budget that includes a massive property hike and other fees to help close a shortfall and address the city's underfunded pension system.

Much of Wednesday's debate before the 36-14 vote was supportive, with aldermen saying it's needed to improve Chicago's financial footing and continue services. But many called the vote on the $7.8 billion budget the most difficult of their careers.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed an incremental $543 million property tax increase for police and fire pensions. He's also asked for a $45 million tax hike for schools, a $9.50 monthly garbage charge and other fees.

To make the property tax more palatable, Emanuel wants an exemption, but it requires state legislative approval.

Chicago has the worst-funded pension system of any major American city.

The City Council also approved the proposed Lucas Museum on the lakefront.

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