Pioneer Press News-Star
By PATRICK BUTLER Staff Writer
Mayor Richard Daley's 2008 budget was approved 40-10 during nearly four hours of City Council deliberations Nov. 13, but a separate vote to increase the city's property tax levy by $85.4 million - the highest rate increase since Daley took office - passed by only eight votes during the meeting.
Alderman Tom Tunney, 44th, one of the council members who voted for both the budget and the property tax hike, attributed the unusual show of independence to the fact that a number of freshmen aldermen were elected earlier this year with the understanding they would more actively represent the interests of their constituents and that there would be "more scrutiny of the city budget and city services."
Daley himself speculated later that at least some aldermen who supported the budget weighed in against the property tax hike knowing the package would pass anyway so they could at least say they voted against raising homeowners' real estate taxes.
"It's just politics," he said.
A number of aldermen including Ariel Reboyras, 30th, who argued "this isn't about a tax increase but an investment in our libraries" and Helen Shiller, 46th, said the increases were unavoidable if Chicago is to remain a world-class city.
Voting for the budget but not the property tax increase was Alderman Vi Daley, 43rd, while Alderman Brendan Reilly, 42nd, voted against both the budget and the tax hike, explaining he did not believe the City Council had done all it could to identify additional savings to balance the budget.
He added, however, that he looks forward to working with Mayor Daley to get legislative leaders in Springfield to find a permanent source of funding for public schools that would allow "meaningful property tax relief."
Also voting against both the budget and the property tax hike was Alderman Joe Moore, 49th, who pointed to the dozens of tax, fine and fee hikes at the same time voters have grown fed up with the costs of corruption that get passed on to taxpayers. He added that cities like Chicago wouldn't have to dig so deeply into the public's pockets if the state and federal governments were doing their parts..
Alderman Dick Mell, 33rd, also spoke against the budget, but ultimately voted for it once he was satisfied there were "some things like a library that our community would get."