Chicago Sun-Times


- —Fran Spielman

Highlights from the budget Mayor Lori Lightfoot unveiled Wednesday:

◆ A claimed $200 million saved through refinancin­g debt.

◆ A TIF surplus of $300 million, with $163 million of that going to Chicago Public Schools. The city will get $31.4 million.

◆ A new relief program for utility bills. It will cut water rates for homeowners with incomes at least 150% below the federal poverty level. About 20,000 households will be eligible for the program, the mayor estimated. Also, after a year in the program, all past-due water bill debts will be waived.

◆ Also, all water bills will be sent monthly rather than twice a year, and water billing will end after an account has been shut off.

◆ “New investment­s” include $10 million for affordable housing and homelessne­ss reduction and $9 million for violence prevention.

◆ The mayor plans to eliminate most, if not all, of the 3,100 vacant city jobs and abolish Emanuel’s slowstarti­ng Infrastruc­ture Trust.

◆ An increase in fees for ride-hailing services, such as Lyft and Uber, which Lightfoot said would bring in $40 million, promote the use of public transit and “improve the playing field for our taxi drivers.” The plan would triple the tax on Uber and Lyft passengers riding solo to and from downtown — and slap a 74% increase on ride-hailing trips in the neighborho­ods.

◆ A promise to raise Chicago’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2021; state law requires it to reach that mark only by 2025.

◆ The mayor, who promised to add Sunday hours at the city’s libraries, also proposed increasing the library portion of the property tax levy by $18 million to begin to make that happen.

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