Greising: Chicago Has Spoken; Mayor Lightfoot, We’re Ready To See Your Budget

The budget town hall did not provide all of the answers to Chicago's fiscal crises, so it's up to the mayor to show the people of Chicago a path forward in addressing these civic problems.

Lori Lightfoot (Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images)

BGA President David Greising writes every other week for the Chicago Tribune Opinion section.

It turns out the people of Chicago don’t have a tidy answer to solving the city’s $838 million budget gap, much less the steep incremental increase in additional pension payments expected to reach $989 million a year by 2023.

Ald. Pat Dowell, chairman of the City Council’s budget committee, acknowledged the public is short on answers. I caught up with Dowell on Wednesday at the South Shore Cultural Center, on the way out of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s final budget town hall.

"There were not a lot of thoughtful ways to gain revenue, just ways to raise expenses,” Dowell said. “Clearly, people are not wanting to see an increase in property taxes, or fines and fees,” she added.

The lack of breakthrough ideas from the public is hardly a surprise. Most people are not experts in municipal finance. They don’t know where to find the soft spots in a budget, or structure a whiz-bang solution to a long-term financial problem.

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