Mayor Richard M. Daleytoday opened a series of three public hearings regarding the city’s 2011 budget, which has a projected shortfall of almost $655 million.
“We're already crafting our budget to reflect important priorities,” Daley said at the hearing, which was held at the South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. South Shore Dr.
“We must keep our efforts going to transform our economy so that people get back to work as soon as possible and create good jobs for the future. We also need to understand your priorities so that we continue to address the many challenges we face as a city,” he said.
The Mayor said the worst recession in seventy years has had a huge negative impact on City revenues – especially the ones that are related to income, sales and real estate taxes.
In the Corporate Fund in 2011, revenues from those sources are expected to be at 2004 levels – and that’s about $350 million less than what they were just four years ago.
Since its peak year in 2007, the City has lost a total of more than $1.2 billion derived from these economically sensitive revenue sources.
“Had the recession -- which happened because of national and international decision making -- not happened, we'd be within reach of balancing our budget today,” the Mayor said.
Daley said that in the last two years alone -- in order to protect taxpayers – the City has cut over $400 million in spending, implemented management improvements and asked employees to take unpaid furlough days.
In the last ten years, the City has cut over 6,200 employees, even as it has added sworn police officers.
Daley said that for the third consecutive year, his budget proposes no property tax increase.
He said he cannot rule out that to balance next year's budget the City will be forced to put many things on hold or reduce or cut some services -- permanently or for a year or two.
“We need to hear your ideas about what we must fund next year and if you have ideas about which specific programs we can do without -- either permanently or temporarily,” he said.
Daley said that this year for the first time, the City sent out messages on “Twitter” asking for people’s ideas and suggestions about the budget and about city government.
The next budget public hearing will be held Friday, September 10 at Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd. The final hearing will be held on Thursday, September 16 at North-Grand High School, 4338 W. Wabansia Av.
The hearings begin at 7 p.m. Registration to speak begins at 6 p.m.
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