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Shadow Budget?

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Shadow Budget?

Seems like every politician in the city has an eye on succeeding outgoing Mayor Richard Daley, who’s leaving the city coffers drained when he leaves office.

Curious, then, that none of these mayoral hopefuls has floated a budget like the one Inspector General Joseph Ferguson reportedly has drawn up and sent out to the Mayor and Alderman, according to a press release.

“It is no secret to Chicagoans that the City is already well into a prolonged period of fiscal difficulty,” said Inspector General Joseph Ferguson. “This report sets out today’s challenging budgetary environment and provides residents and policymakers with possible options in order to start the discussion of how to return the City to a sustainable fiscal foundation.”

The city’s Inspector General has no authority over budget issues and typically doesn’t weigh in on such matters, but the release said he felt a necessity to release a report similar to what the congressional buget office releases in Washington D.C.

But Ferguson, a former U.S. Attorney, went ahead and proposed $244 million in budget cuts anyway, according to the Sun-Time' Michael Sneed.

"The IGO is charged by ordinance with promoting economy, efficiency, effectiveness and integrity in the operations of the City government. To help meet its mission, the IGO encourages City residents to send in budget reduction ideas for IGO consideration and analysis. These suggestions may be included in the IGO’s next Budget Options report."

Those cuts include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Cutting firefighters
  • Canceling free sewer service for seniors
  • Privatizing garbage collection
  • Discontinuing traffic aides in the Loop
  • Eliminating property tax relief grants
  • Dismantling free tuberculosis clinics
  • Free blue bin recycling containers 

No word on what city officials think of the plan.

UPDATE: A spokesman for unofficial mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel has issued a statement on Ferguson's proposal:

    "Our city finances are strapped and taxpayers are not getting bang for their buck.  Inspector General Ferguson has put forward a bold proposal that raises important questions about what the city government can do and what it should do.  There is no simple, off-the-shelf solution and we must change our entire approach to the budget.  That means restructuring programs – like putting our waste management system on a grid – and reorganizing our personnel to ensure that they are fulfilling our most immediate needs.  I don’t agree with all of the particulars, for example, I believe eliminating Chicago Career Tech in the middle of a recession could leave a number of hardworking Chicagoans without a job prospect, but Inspector General Ferguson’s proposal is a worthy start to the conversation about the future of the city budget. "

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