CHICAGO – It is tradition in Chicago that when the aldermen finally take up the mayor’s proposed budget, residents pack the council chamber.
This year is different, but the pandemic is not silencing concerned citizens. A number of people joined Monday’s virtual City Council meeting to share their thoughts about the budget.
Mayor Lightfoot is poised to win approval for her $12.8 billion budget that tries to plug a $1.2 billion hole.
For the budget to pass, Lightfoot needs 26 aldermen to vote yes. City Hall observers say she’s there. Now, it’s just a battle over the final vote tally.
The most controversial Lightfoot proposal is a $94 million property tax hike followed by annual increases tied to the consumer price index.
Monday during a brief Council meeting, members of the public expressed concern. The comments were audio only.
“This budget does not provide adequate funding for mental health services and this budget does not meet a desperate need for truly affordable housing,” a resident said.
To win key votes, Mayor Lightfoot has made concessions and cut deals. She agreed to make Juneteenth a day of observance, dropped city worker layoffs and added more money for violence prevention
Even before the vote, grassroots organizations say they’re dismayed. A campaign to defund the Chicago Police Department fired off thousands of e-mails to aldermen urging them reconsider CPD’s budget.
“The budget that came before City Council today is anti-Black, pro-cop, and fake progressive,” DeFundCPD said.
In other council business, the aldermen unanimously passed relief for restaurants struggling to survive with in-door dining suspended in Illinois.
The new temporary ordinance takes effect immediately, setting a cap on the amount of money third-party delivery services like Grubhub or Uber Eats can charge restaurants.
“With this hopefully they will be able to prayfully recover from some of the damage that has been done to them,” Ald. Carrie Austin (34th Ward) said.
The aldermen did not debate the budget today. That comes tomorrow at 10 a.m. during another meeting where the Council will take a final vote.