Lori Lightfoot

Lightfoot Says Property Tax Increase on the Table as City Faces $700M Budget Shortfall

Lightfoot said April numbers project the budget could fall $700 million short of plans

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she could not rule out an increase in property taxes as the city faces a major budget shortfall due to the economic fallout from coronavirus.

Lightfoot said April numbers project the budget could fall $700 million short of plans.

"That 's a sobering number and presents a sobering challenge," Lightfoot said during a press conference Tuesday.

The announcement comes as the city canceled plans to host the Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, Air and Water show other major summer events that also bring in revenue.

"While this budget shortfall is grim, what would have been worse is if we had seen more people die ... if we hadn't sheltered in place," Lightfoot said.

Among the industries hit hardest were the restaurant and food service industry.

"All revenue streams have taken a hit," Lightfoot said, noting a "complete change in consumer behavior."

"They're not driving, not consuming goods and services they way they were," she added.

And with the city is still not fully reopened, the numbers will likely continue to rise.

Among the plans to address the shortfall, Lightfoot said the city will use $100 million to refinance savings from the beginning of the year, ID additional refinancing savings and look for further savings in city departments, including reprioritizing hirings for 2020.

But still, that won't keep a property tax increase and staff layoffs from remaining in play.

"I can't take it off the table, but it is truly the last thing I want to do," Lightfoot said.

The news comes as the city prepares for a second surge in cases following days of massive protests that saw large crowds gathered to protest the death of George Floyd.

At the same time, Lightfoot announced plans to seek authority to appropriate $1.3 billion in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act grant funding to help struggling residents, including the city's homeless, homeowners and those in meed of mental health resources. Federal guidance dictates the money must be directed to COVID-related costs, including immediate health expenses and economic and social impacts.

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