A majority of the Chicago City Council fired off a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday, expressing concerns about the administration’s proposed cuts to libraries, public health centers, graffiti removal teams and the city’s 911 center.
“These cuts will have a negative effect on the safety and quality of life of our residents and must be averted,” stated the letter, signed by 28 of 50 aldermen, including four chairman of council committees.
The letter also stated aldermen “have reservations” about plans to increase the cost of vehicle stickers by $60 on 184,000 SUVs and larger cars.
(See the letter and the aldermen who signed it HERE.)
The missive, which asks to meet with top administration officials, was sent in advance of Wednesday’s public hearing on the mayor’s $6.3 billion budget proposal. Aldermen can offer up amendments to the budget before the final vote, which is slated for Nov. 16.
Budget Director Alexandra Holt said earlier Tuesday that administration officials have been discussing budget concerns with aldermen.
“The budget process is one of compromise,” Holt said. “It’s one of having discussions about what the trade-offs might be, and that’s the process this year as well.”
“Where an aldermen or others are interested in making changes, we’ve got to find some offsetting balances, either other reductions or revenues to accomplish that, and that’s something we’re in the process of working through that with the City Council right now,” Holt added.
Ald. Nicholas Sposato, 36th, a freshman aldermen who helped spearhead the letter effort, said “overwhelmingly, for me, people are concerned about the library cuts.” Neighborhood branch library hours would be reduced, and staffing levels would be slashed.
Aldermen also said they are concerned about plants to close six of 12 mental health clinics, scale down graffiti removal teams and cut the number of police and fire emergency dispatchers and call takers.
Along with a property tax hike for Chicago Public Schools and proposed water and sewer fee increases, Chicagoans are starting to feel squeezed, said freshman Ald. John Arena, 45th. “It’s starting to add up for families already struggling in Chicago neighborhoods,” he said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times