Chicago City Council meets virtually as Lightfoot’s budget announcement looms

CHICAGO (WLS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot presided over a virtual meeting of the Chicago City Council Wednesday morning as the announcement of her budget plan looms in the weeks ahead.

Lightfoot previously said Chicago is forecast to have a

$1.2 billion budget gap for 2021

, reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has hinted at job cuts in order to fill the deficit.

The 2020 shortfall has grown to nearly $800 million, the mayor said.

"Make no mistake. This will be our pandemic budget," she said.

Lightfoot delayed laying out her budget plan until Oct. 21 in the hopes Congress would have more time to come up with a stimulus funding plan.

The mayor is expected to comment on Wednesday’s council meeting at 2 p.m.

Lightfoot previously said revenue loss from COVID-19 accounts for 65% of the city’s budget gap, with tax receipts plummeting from lack of tourism, as well as restaurant, hotel and convention businesses.

The mayor also said looting hit small businesses hard, and bridging the fiscal chasm will require another round of federal funding.

"The federal government simply must step up and support our cities and states with additional stimulus dollars critically needed by our families and businesses," Lightfoot said. "We are in a crisis unlike anything experienced in our lifetimes. This should not be up for debate. I know this is campaign season, but this is not a red versus blue state issue."

Without help from Washington, Lightfoot said the city faces "painful choices," including the likelihood of layoffs, but added property tax hikes and layoffs are a last resort.

"I will do everything I can to prevent layoffs, but the reality is stark and our options in this fiscal crisis are limited," Lightfoot said.

"I think it’s going to be deep cuts in services no matter what," said Laurence Msall, president of the Civic Federation. "If the federal government does not provide revenue support, it’s going to be deeper than is necessary."

The mayor also added that budgeting for public safety next year will mean funding for both the Chicago Police Department and community support structures.

The mayor said she’ll take a hard look at police overtime and other aspects of the CPD budget, but said defunding the police is not the answer.

In order to bring in revenue, Lightfoot called for the need for a casino surrounded by a "world class entertainment district."

The video in the player above is from an earlier report.

Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

via ABC7 Chicago

October 7, 2020 at 02:22PM

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