For Sale: America's Third-Largest City - NBC Chicago

For Sale: America's Third-Largest City



    For Sale: America's Third-Largest City

    It seems that parking meters and the Chicago Skyway were just the beginning.

    In his continuing effort to fill a $655 million budget shortfall, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley on Thursday said he wants to entertain private company bids to plan and run Chicago's lakefront music festivals and other big events like the Taste.

    The city's "blue cart" recycling program could also be sold, with the hopes of expanding it to make drop-offs more convenient.

    The city pound could go private, as the city looks for an outside company or charity to clean cages and feed the animals.

    Daley is also looking for private mechanics to manage the city's fleet of 13,000 vehicles.

    While he couldn't say how much money these proposals could save, Daley said the deals are off if bids come in too high.  In another money making move, city buildings could start seeing ATMs and movie rental boxes.

    Daley said he can't rule out service cuts and asking non-union workers to take unpaid days off to help cut costs, but he is determined to hold the line on property taxes.

    "People don’t want to see government growing. They don’t want to see their taxes growing. ... People are suffering,” he said.

    The mayor also did an about-face on the idea of using the city's TIF, or tax increment financing funds, saying he now will consider returning some of the unallocated revenue to the city and other local government agencies.

    The city's water system, Midway Airport and winter plowing of side streets have previously been floated as services the city could privatize.

    Citing the city's decline in tax revenue, use of reserve funds and underfunding of pension obligations, Fitch Ratings earlier this month downgraded Chicago's bond rating from AA+ to AA.