Mayor Rahm Emanuel's first budget proposal will include increases in fines and fees and the closure of three district police stations.
The stations on the chopping block are Wood, on the near West Side; Belmont, near North Center; and Prairie, which is less than a mile away from police headquarters on the South Side.
The Police and Fire Departments also are consolidating special units, including bomb and arson squads, the marine unit, and the anti-terrorism unit.
Emanuel also would boost the city share of the hotel tax by a percentage point, to 4.5 percent. And there would be an extra fee for parking in downtown garages during rush hour that is part of a “congestion pricing plan,” the sources said.
The budget also would rely on declaring a relatively modest surplus in the city’s special taxing districts, the sources said. Sometime next year, the city also would move to pick up garbage based on a grid system, a step that could save tens of millions of dollars a year, the sources said.
And at a time when other cities are closing libraries, the hours in Chicago might be cut, but they would all remain open, the sources said.
The details leaked out today after the start of briefings given by top city budget officials to aldermen. Emanuel is set to deliver his first budget address to the city on Wednesday. Emanuel stopped by an early briefing, sources said.
Absent from the briefings was any discussion of cuts at the Chicago Police Department. Although the mayor has pledged to maintain the number of cops on the street, he has not ruled out merging of district police buildings or cutting layers of management.
Police and fire personnel account for most of the city’s day-to-day spending.
All through his campaign, Emanuel said tough decisions would have to be made to bring city spending down without resorting to one-time fixes, a method former Mayor Richard Daley turned to repeatedly in recent years.
In late July, Emanuel pegged the city’s budget shortfall for next year at $636 million, or about one fifth of day-to-day city spending.
Emanuel said he would not close that hole with new taxes or drawing down already dwindling long-term city cash reserves. He did not rule out fee or fine increases.
"We have come to that moment of truth as a city," Emanuel said at the time. "We must now make the tough choices to deal with that in a structural and fundamental way."
Before then, Emanuel began to whittle away at city costs, and he’s made several announcements in recent weeks about how he plans to reduce city costs and boost revenue bit by bit.
The savings he had announced before today neared $146 million if it all came to pass as envisioned. The initiatives included improved debt collection to bring in $33 million more next year, cuts in management to save $25 million, a restructuring of purchase procedures to save $25 million, full use of state and federal grants to cut local spending by $20 million and an employee wellness program to save $20 million.
"The budget I present will make the tough choices and it will be honest with the people of Chicago about those tough choices to put our fiscal house in order," Emanuel said today at a news conference to announce Accenture Financial Services will add 500 jobs in Chicago.
"Because companies, from Accenture to United to all those involved, are looking now for where a city is ready to face its future, make the tough decisions to shape its future and not be shaped by it.”
The mayor also was asked whether his budget would call for the city’s libraries be open less hours to save money.
“As it relates to libraries, you should know two things: I know what other cities are doing is closing them. I know the important role that libraries play in the educational and cultural life of our city, and I'm going to stay committed to the goal of libraries in our communities so our kids have an opportunity to go and to learn -- not just in school, but at home and at their libraries."