Back from Europe, Lightfoot facing challenges on multiple fronts
CHICAGO — Mayor Lightfoot returned from overseas to several troubling headlines concerning public safety and city finances.
Back home from London and Paris, Mayor Lightfoot began her week delivering good news to businesses and entrepreneurs on the West Side by announcing $50 million in community development grants for various projects.
“Seventy-nine different recipients of funds that will make a difference not only in helping realize their own entrepreneurial dreams but to make sure that we are continuing to build healthy strong communities,” Lightfoot said.
But the mayor faces challenges on multiple fronts.
A Sun-Times analysis found Chicago police made arrests in just 12 percent of crimes reported last year and three officers have died by suicide in recent weeks.
“We cannot underestimate it particularly in this difficult time how challenging it is to be the police and we’ve got to make sure that we continue to destigmatize the need to get help,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor is also coping with skyrocketing inflation. Specifically, her decision to tie property taxes to increases or decreases in the national consumer price index. With the CPI currently soaring, taxpayers could face a massively higher bill next year.
“I don’t have any regrets, but obviously nobody anticipated that the CPI was going to explode like it has this year,” Lightfoot said.
The mayor said she is exploring a way to soften the blow.
“Obviously, we will take some measures to address that challenge in proposing a predictable property tax increase,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve started a discussion internally with our finance team. We will present a plan as part of our budget to make sure that there’s isn’t a significant burden on taxes for our taxpayers.”
The mayor could face another budget shortfall if City Council repeals her speed camera policy. As part of her 2021 budget, Lightfoot lowered the threshold for tickets to 6 miles per hour.
The council will vote on a measure to reverse it on Wednesday.
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“If that were to go into law it would create at least a $30 million deficit this year,” Lightfoot said. “Which no one who is a supporter has said ‘how you would replace that income?’ and then $40 million next year.”
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