City Budget Bomb: It's Gonna Get Worse

But there's a two-click solution

The bad news is that next year's city budget is projecting to be even worse than it's been this year.

Mayor Richard M. Daley 's administration Thursday predicted a gaping hole in next year's budget that will eclipse the current financial problems - even after the city exhausts its brand-new $320 million rainy day fund, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The anticipated $6.2 billion budget for next year could be more than half a billion dollars in the red because of plummeting tax collections and rising wages that account for more than 80 percent of the city's day-to-day spending, said Chief Financial Officer Gene Saffold. He announced the gloomy prediction as Daley aides began briefing aldermen in anticipation of public hearings next month.

The good news is that a simple solution is at hand: $1 billion in unspent TIF funds.

Whet Moser notes the potential TIF rescue plan in "How To Fix A Looming City Budget Apocalypse In Two Easy Clicks."

Moser points to a Progress Illinois post that notes  "It seems ridiculous to be redirecting so much money away from the general tax base at the same time that revenues are sharply declining." 

Progress Illinios has "indeed, with a little creative thinking and flexibility on the part of city officials, there are several adjustments to the TIF system that could provide some relief for cash-starved taxing bodies in Chicago."

The Daley administration is unlikely to want anything to do with that - now or in the future. It's planning to use TIF funds for the Olympic Village, for example.

Maybe not getting the Olympics would be the best thing for the city budget.

And speaking of redirecting money, maybe all that private cash raised by Chicago 2016 could fit into the equation if the bid doesn't come our way.

Another revenue source: the money that could be saved by cleaning up City Hall.

"Hundreds of millions of dollars of waste," University of Chicago at Illinois professor Dick Simpson said in the spring when he issued a report on the state's "corruption tax."

So there you have it, budget solved.

It may take three steps instead of two, but it'll be worth it.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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