Chicago projects budget shortfall of nearly $700 million as tax revenue plummets during pandemic

Chicago News

CHICAGO — While Chicago has been losing tax revenue for months amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has been careful to not put a number on the city’s deficit until Tuesday: nearly $700 million.

Lightfoot said they’re projecting a 2020 budget shortfall of close to $700 million based on money lost to date and assumptions about the speed of Chicago’s recovery. But she said that number could grow bigger if there’s a second surge of coronavirus cases later this year.

Now Lightfoot and Chicago’s City Council must chart a path forward.

“All options including raising property taxes and layoffs have to remain on the table,” Lightfoot said.

Lightfoot also laid out how she’d like to spend more than $1 billion in COVID-19 relief sent to the city by the federal government. This includes:

  • $376 million in airport assistance
  • $410 million direct COVID-19 response
  • $39 million for homeless services
  • $35 million for small businesses
  • $10 million for mental health services

Tuesday’s announcement that Chicago will cancel all its summer festivals certainly won’t help the city’s finances either.

Officials waited and considered changing dates for major events like Lollapalooza, which brings 100,000 people into downtown each day, but in the end decided such large gatherings are too risky.

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