New billion-dollar Chicago budget includes tax hikes

$12.8 billion: That is the size of the 2021 budget the Chicago City Council passed Tuesday, which will have residents paying more.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot says this was likely the most challenging budget in Chicago history.

With coronavirus cutting city revenues, leading to a $1.2 billion deficit, the pandemic budget passed 29 to 21.

“No one is high fiving, no one is running a victory lap, nobody is doing those sorts of things because this budget today, while not perfect, it is necessary,” said Alderman Jason Ervin.

“This budget is not a reflection of what Chicagoans need and deserve,” said Alderman Maria Hadden.

“It sets us up for a quick turn-around from the greatest recession ever,” said Alderman George Cardenas.

The budget includes a three-cent gas tax increase. The council also passed a $94 million property tax hike.

“Don’t give me crumbs and tell me it’s cake. We’re in a global pandemic and there’s no way in the world we should be balancing this budget on the backs of taxpayers,” said Alderman Jeanette Taylor.

“2020 has kicked residents in the teeth, robbed and spat on them. Why is this City Council trying to justify harming them further for the next four decades?” Alderman Raymond Lopez asked.

The city will refinance debt and dip into the rainy day fund, but there will not be city layoffs. In addition, it includes more money for violence prevention, mental health services and homeless prevention.

“For this budget that meant finding solutions in the face of unprecedented challenges,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

One thing the divided council seemed to agree on, there is more hard work ahead.