After every dime is counted, every crooked contract awarded, every single bit of graft and corruption is tallied up, $2.7 million is all that's left in the bank? We're going to quote a bunch from this article, but you can click on the link to read the whole thing.
Mayor Daley closed the books on 2009 with just $2.7 million in the bank, having added $461 million to the mountain of debt piled on Chicago taxpayers, year-end audits show.
As low as the unreserved cash balance is, it’s more than ten-times higher than the $200,000 the city had left after 2008.
The figure does not include dwindling long-term reserves generated by the parking meter and Chicago Skyway leases that Daley could tap once again to erase a projected $700 million shortfall.
The cash cushion is somewhat scary for a city with an annual budget of $6.1 billion. It’s tantamount to the average homeowner letting his or her checking account dwindle down to pennies.
Ten years ago, the city had an $80.6 million cash cushion. Experts recommend at least $200 million in reserve for a budget the size of Chicago’s, according to Civic Federation President Laurence Msall.
“The city is in a very precarious financial position. … It’s going to call for a major restructuring of city services. Everything will have to be on the table,” Msall said.
“It’s a very, very difficult economy. Walk down anybody’s block and talk to people. Yesterday, four people came up to me and said, ‘Mayor, where am I gonna get a job?’… People can only survive so long. They’re out of work, or they’re getting cut back,” the mayor said.
The audits also include some troubling numbers that have nothing to do with city finances.
The number of “physical arrests” by Chicago Police continued their steady decline — from 227,576 in 2006 and 196,621 in 2008 to 181,254 last year.
The downward trend coincides with a hiring slowdown that has left the Police Department more than 2,000 officers-a-day below authorized strength. It also coincides with allegations of “de-policing,” a condition that exists when police officers “stop doing their jobs” because they're afraid nobody has their back.
Police Department spokesman Roderick Drew said the department “doesn’t measure the success of crime-fighting strategies simply by the number of arrests.” He argued that the “true measure” is the reduction in reported crime that Chicago has experienced over the past decade.
“In fact we have experienced 18 consecutive months of lower overall crime in Chicago dating back to January 2009,” he said.
And of course, Fran Spielman wouldn't be Fran Spielman if she didn't make sure she was earning her Daley bread:
- The Sun-Times reported last week that Chicago is facing a record budget shortfall — approaching $700 million when the cost of police and fire contracts are factored in--setting the stage for another raid on the parking meter and Skyway reserves.
Labels: money questions