Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled his first budget today, tackling a $635 million deficit, and the city’s visitors and drivers are among those who would pay more.
The mayor had vowed not to raise property taxes or the city’s sales tax. But the budget, which the mayor outlined to city council, includes a proposal to raise the city’s hotel tax by 1 percent, or about $1.78 to the average visitor.
Although the increase itself isn’t likely to deter many visitors, Chicago has seen tourism drop, especially among people who come in from the suburbs for the day.
They may not be happy with another one of the mayor’s proposals: a $2 a day, week day congestion tax at garages downtown and in the city’s River North neighborhood.
Emanuel’s budget also takes aim at the city’s drivers, who are required to purchase a registration sticker. The price of a sticker for trucks and sport utilities would rise to $134 a year, from $120, although the price for a small car would remain at $75.
Anyone who is caught driving while intoxicated would see their fine double, while Emanuel also proposes doubling the fine for driving with an illegal weapon.
Two other proposals are receiving attention in Chicago. One would combine the city’s police and fire headquarters, making Chicago the first mayor city in the country to do so, he said. The mayor has already announced plans to put 1,100 officers back on the street from desk jobs.
And, Emanuel is proposing an increase in residents’ water bills, which he said would be equal to the cost of five cups of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. (Assuming he means the 20 ounce cup, which sells for $1.95, that would be about $9.75 extra a year.) Even so, Emanuel said rates in Chicago would be the lowest among major cities in the Great Lakes.
Do you live in Chicago? What are your views on the mayor’s budget proposal?