Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is reportedly considering a property tax increase as part of her plan to address the city's estimated $1.2 billion budget shortfall.
The Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that sources told the paper that Lightfoot was considering a $94 million property tax increase as well as layoffs for more than 300 city employees and an increase in the gas tax.
When asked Monday about the report, specifically the property tax increase, Lightfoot demurred.
"What I will say is this: on Wednesday, we have a lot to say about the specific ways in which we propose to close the $1.2 billion gap," Lightfoot said. She is scheduled to deliver her annual budget address Wednesday morning, submitting her plan, after releasing in late August a forecast projecting a $1.2 billion shortfall for fiscal year 2021.
That shortfall, Lightfoot said in announcing the projection, was deepened by roughly $799 million due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has cratered revenues like sales tax and more as shutdowns to prevent the spread of the deadly virus have caused widespread economic devastation.
"I've been very clear since my forecast speech on Aug. 31 that we are looking at a range of different tools, because the enormity of this budget gap requires us to look at a number of different options," Lightfoot said Monday.
"We always look internally first; we can't go to taxpayers and ask them for more and we pretend that the status quo turning the size of the budget, the way in which we deliver services, that that's all fine and can't be touched," she continued. "We've got to look internally first, to earn the trust of the taxpayers and demonstrate to them that we are being the fiduciaries that we are obligated to be for their precious hard earned tax dollars."
Lightfoot had previously said in an interview that she couldn't rule out layoffs for city workers due to the shortfall, looking to the federal government for assistance.
“I can’t take it off the table, because we’re still working on solutions for the 2020 budget,” she said in an interview on Aug. 18. “We’re still looking to Washington, but we’re gonna have to formulate some alternative plans if we don’t see that there’s any glimmer of hope of getting more support from Washington DC.”