Mayor Emanuel unveils Chicago’s 2018 budget plan

CHICAGO -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled his 2018 budget plan in an address to City Council Wednesday morning.

The mayor's budget is a $8.6 billion plan with $289 million more in spending.

With the new budget comes new taxes and fees:

  •  A 15-cent fee hike for Uber and Lyft rides (with the money slated to go towards CTA upgrades)
  • An increase in the amusement tax
  • And a $1.10 increase in the 911 phone tax that is expected to give $30 million to the city

A $63 million city property tax increase is already scheduled to hit homeowners next year and a $224.5 million tax increase from Chicago Public Schools.

The budget calls for more officers and investments in youth programs.

The mayor also plans to call for an increase in the amusement taxes to 9 percent from 5 percent for venues with more than 1500 seats.

Smaller sized venues, now paying the 5 percent tax, wouldn't have to pay any more.

The mayor thanked taxpayers for doing their part to solve Chicago’s financial problems.

“For six years Chicago has come together rolled up our sleeves, done the hard work of confronting our fiscal challenges,” the mayor said.

The mayor also announced that next year -- a year early -- the city will end the practice of “scoop-and-toss” borrowing. “Scoop-and-toss” is the practice of re-borrowing instead of paying off debt when it comes due. Aldermen praised the move.

“No scoop and toss. We used to use MasterCard to pay our Visa. We no longer have to do that,” Alderman Ariel E. Reboyras said.

But others worry that taxpayers are tapped out.

“Why once again are we nickel and dimming regular Chicagoans rather than asking the mayor’s campaign contributors to pay their fair share?” Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa said.

Among the new spending: $24 million next year for police reform – some of that for new officers and a new public safety training academy.

During the lengthy address, the mayor seemed to take a victory lap – declaring that his policies have put Chicago on firmer financial footing.

“Every single bad financial practice we inherited in 2011 has now been eliminated from the budget. We have traded fiscal tricks for honest books,” he said.

Aldermen expressed concern that the mayor has not shared with them details of the massive financial incentives package Chicago is offering Amazon in pursuit of its second headquarters.

They said tax breaks and incentives should be included in next year’s budget.