Chicago’s City Council oversees nearly $9 billion in spending every year. The city has chronic debt, with an unfunded debt liability soaring above $30 billion. Because of that, and the fact that the city’s 50 aldermen have a hand in the fiscal and economic health of the city, the Better Government Association’s Policy & Civic Engagement team has been supporting greater empowerment of the Council Office of Financial Accountability. Taxpayers rely on their local representatives to be informed and thoughtful leaders. The Council Office of Financial Analysis (COFA) was created with the intention of supporting and broadening the financial knowledge of aldermen, but its effectiveness has been stymied by political power games.
On May 10, 2018, the BGA Policy and Civic Engagement team sent a letter to Chicago City Council members in support of Ordinance 2017-7866. The ordinance expands the responsibilities of the COFA to include fiscal impact statements for relevant pending legislation. The BGA supported the creation of COFA as an important resource already enjoyed in other cities, including New York, San Diego, and San Francisco.
Letters were sent to the 36 co-sponsors of the ordinance and to the Chairman of the Committee on Budget and Government Operations.