Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rubber Stamp Council Passes Rahm's Budget 50-0

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago alderman unanimously approved Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first budget Wednesday morning, while offering concerns that people in the wards will face because of budget cuts.

    Emanuel immediately praised the council's work.

    "Thanks for an honest budget, he said, adding that the budget will lead to a "bright future" for the city.

    Finance committee chairman Ed Burke said it was the most cooperative session he's ever witnessed.

    "I can say with confidence, I've never seen a more cooperative effort," said Burke.

    Not everyone was thrilled about the $6.3 billion budget, which includes cuts to a number of social services, such as mental health wards and police department.

    Alderman Leslie Harrison said "the first cut is the deepest."

    The budget includes 517 total layoffs that will be effective Jan. 1 and eliminate more than 2,000 vacant positions."To those that will feel the real grunt of this budget, whether it would be through a loss of a job, a reduction in service or an increase in cost of living I can only offer that this vote is not taken light by me or my colleagues for this administration," said Alderman John Arena.

    The 2012 budget proposed would fill a $635.7 million budget deficit, and allow the city to invest in infrastructure, while creating a $20 million safety net in the city's rainy day fund.

    The proposed budget does not include any increases in property or sales taxes or a new income tax and reforms and efficiencies and reforms will save taxpayers $417 million.

    Alderman Joseph Moore said he would vote for this one because unlike previous budgets, "it is an honest budget."

    Many alderman said that there was open dialog between the mayor, his administration, their fellow alderman colleagues and the people of the ward. Alderman have had an open door for constituents to reach out with ideas and come up with alternatives.

    "For the first time we've had open and honest discussion with Commissioner about the reality facing our city," said Alderman Sandi Jackson.

    The budget includes a list of increased fines and fees, shorter library hours, and the closing of six of the city's 12 mental health clinics. It will also include an increased water and sewer fees, that will be used to fund an infrastructure improvement program that will replace miles of old water pipes and create more than 18,000 jobs over the next 10 years.