My vote today was the most difficult one I have had to make as an alderman. I voted for the 2016 Budget and the associated property tax increase for three reasons.
First, I have been assured that 35 additional police officers will be assigned to the 19th District in 2016, including 25 in the first quarter and another ten during the rest of the year. This is in addition to the eight officers that will be transferring to the 19th District in November.
Additionally, we need our families to stay in the city and we need our neighborhood high school to be the crown jewel of our community. This budget includes a multi-million dollar investment for Lake View High School to increase the academic rigor of the school, inclusive of an honors program, and stronger connections to area elementary schools. The investments provided in the 2016 budget will make Lake View HS the quality neighborhood option which our residents demand. This will further build on the efforts of the current leadership of Lake View High School.
The final reason I voted yes today was because there is no doubt that the men and women of the Chicago Police and Chicago Fire departments are our "Finest" and "Bravest" citizens. Our city could not survive without them. The fact is that as their employer, the City of Chicago made contractual obligations to them with regard to their pensions that must be met, and this budget does that. It is unfortunate that the funding levels were allowed to dip so low and huge lump sum payments need to be made. That is not the fault of our hard working police officers and firefighters who have contributed their share all along, but that was the reality with which the City Council had to deal today.
Moving forward, my colleagues and I need to continue to look at non-tax revenue sources while also considering how we can trim costs without cutting vital city services. We are still faced with great challenges and must address them head-on.
I know these taxes and fee increases are not easy. I will work hard to increase the exemptions of homeowners and level the playing field for small businesses in our City. I will continue to make sure our neighborhood receives the level of city services we are paying for. I believe these investments in our City’s long-term financial health, the safety of our neighborhood and education of our children will help our neighborhood continue to grow and prosper.
In other City Council matters, I supported a compromise ordinance that allows ride share services access to the airports while providing relief to the taxi industry. I also voted against allowing the Lucas Museum to establish along the lakefront south of Soldier Field. I do not believe this use is a good fit for the lakefront would like to have seen additional modifications proposal.
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to contact me about these matters and I will keep you posted as things progress.
44th Ward Alderman