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Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposes his 2013 budget to the City Council

Emanuel's 2013 budget doesn't raise taxes, but faces deficit

by John Kanaly
Oct 10, 2012

The mayor presented a 2013 budget to the City Council Wednesday with a nearly $300 million gap and a pension crisis looming in the future.

Despite this, Mayor Rahm Emanuel promised there would be no tax increases, fee increases or loss of city services. Instead the mayor said that the budget makes important investments in small business development, public safety, Chicago children and quality of life in the city.

“If we can realize all of the goals set forth in this budget, we can make Chicago the best city in the country to start a business, find a job and raise a family,” Emanuel told the aldermen.

The total proposed budget is $8.3 billion.

Nearly half of the jobs in the city come from small business and the 2013 budget plans on protecting these businesses by eliminating the Head Tax, which taxes small business based on the number of employees they have. The Head Tax has been under fire for years from business owners. The budget also sets up a Small Business Center that will centralize resources needed for small business to operate.

“A small-business owner will tell you one of the biggest hurdles is that the city departments are stuck in separate silos,” the mayor said.

The new budget provides funding to maintain the Chicago Police Department at its current size by adding 457 new recruits to replace police lost through attrition. It does not respond to calls from some aldermen and the Fraternal Order of Police for an increase in officers. To get more officers on the street, the mayor’s budget calls for decentralizing the CAPS program by moving officers from headquarters into the districts and having each district run its own program.

The mayor repeated several times during his budget message that one of the most important investments will be in children. The budget funds more early childhood education slots, more after school programs, more summer jobs and eye exams for children across the city.

With all the optimism in the mayor’s speech he also warned the council about a future pension crisis. The pension is expected to be 22 percent of the city’s budget, or $1.2 billion.

“No one should underestimate the difficult choices involved in delivering the reforms we need to stabilize our pensions and our pension payments,” Emanuel said.

He again called on the General Assembly to pass pension reform legislation that would provide relief to the city budget. Despite attempts in Springfield to overhaul public pensions in during a special session in August, no action is expected to be taken until next year.