Mayor gives good news, bad news budget address

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a  good news, bad news budget speech Wednesday at City Hall.

His nearly $7 billion budget for 2014 contains no tax hikes.

But he’s warning that if Springfield doesn’t pass pension reform for Chicago, property taxes could double in 2015.

The mayor’s office has been dribbling out budget details since last week in the hope that the $34.2 million in tax, fee and fine increases would be old news by the time Emanuel delivers his speech, freeing up the public to focus on his new policy initiatives.

A 75-cent-per-pack increase in the city’s cigarette tax is projected to bring in about $10 million. Some aldermen questioned that figure, however, saying the higher tax would result in more black-market and across-the-border sales.

A 50 percent increase in the amusement tax rate on cable TV is expected to bring in about $9 million, barring any flight to satellite TV, which under federal law cannot be taxed as an amusement.

Increased zoning permit fees for large construction projects, as well as hefty additional fees for filing on paper in person instead of electronically, are expected to generate $4 million in additional city revenue.

Another $11.2 million would come from increasing certain parking fines and doubling the initial daily storage fees for vehicles impounded for any of a slew of offenses. One increase, to $75 from $25, for parking a recreational vehicle, truck, taxi or bus on a residential street, is meeting some resistance from aldermen.

 -The Chicago Tribune contributed to this report

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