The Chicago City Council today passed Mayor Rahm Emanuel's 2019 budget that makes significant investments in youth and public safety reforms while also providing funding for valued neighborhood services. The Budget, which represents a culmination of the fiscal discipline exercised by the Emanuel Administration over the past seven years, was approved by the City Council with a vote of 48 to 1.
"The tough choices made over the years by Chicago’s taxpayers and this Council have resulted in this balanced budget that reflects our values of being responsible fiscal stewards,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Because of those tough choices, we are able to continue to make key youth, public safety and neighborhood investments that help our communities grow and thrive without seeking additional revenues from the taxpayer."
The 2019 budget was balanced using a mix of improved efficiencies, spending cuts and financial reforms. Using a zero-based budgeting method, the City achieved over $56.7 million in personnel savings, including $33 million in repurposing existing vacancies and $23.7 in healthcare cost savings. An additional $17 million in non-personnel costs and reforms were obtained in areas such as commodities and equipment savings. Overall, the 2019 budget achieves $73.7 million in taxpayer savings.
These budgetary reforms and savings allowed the City to make critical investments in Chicago's youth. This budget supports the expansion of One Summer Chicago, the City's summer youth jobs program with $500,000 in additional funding, bringing the 2019 total investment to $18.1 million. This investment ensures that more than 32,000 youth will have access to summer jobs in 2019, as compared to 14,500 students in 2011. Other youth investments include:
The 2019 budget also includes a robust investment in public safety and police accountability agencies, reflecting Mayor Emanuel's commitment to comprehensive police reform and neighborhood safety. As the two-year hiring surge that grew the Chicago Police Department by nearly 1,000 new sworn officers reaches its goal, this budget also supports important CPD personnel investments such as enhanced officer training, community policing, increased supervision, and officer wellness as part of consent decree reforms proposed by the City and the Illinois Attorney General. These public safety investments totaling over $25.7 million across all impacted departments, will help provide CPD with the training and resources they need to rebuild the trust between police and the communities they serve.
In this budget, more than $53.3 million was saved through debt service and financial policy reforms. These savings allowed for continued investments in important neighborhood services such as the purchase of new garbage and recycling carts, and rodent abatement materials to keep communities clean and healthy. To sustain a greener environment, an additional $500,000 will be used to plant trees next year. To improve the lighting and safety in Chicago's neighborhoods, the City launched the Chicago Smart Lighting Project, which converts the City's outdated and inefficient High-Pressure Sodium lamps to higher quality, more energy-efficient LED lights, creating a budgeted savings of $4.1 million in 2019, compared to 2017.
The 2019 budget passed today also invests $7.4 million dedicated to employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated persons. The funds will employ individuals to work with Chicago Transit Authority, Department of Streets and Sanitation, Department of Transportation, Department of Family and Support Services, and community-based organizations to clean and beautify parkways and vacant lots in communities affected by gun violence.