The Taste of Chicago is a major boost to the budget for the city of Chicago each year with great success and fun for all. People from all neighboring states come to enjoy the yearly summer festival. The Taste still is not immune from the budget crunch of our recent economic crisis since the depression.
Our own Chicago Mayor Daley is currently seeking to privatize the Taste of Chicago, as well as other lakefront festivals and government services, easing the $654 million dollar shortfall. The Mayor is scrounging for every available dollar that can save the city some precious dollars. He is determined to find every option to hold taxes and extra fees at bay. “People don’t want to see government growing. They don’t want to see their taxes growing. … People are suffering,” says the Mayor.
Daley has privatized government parades in past years, despite resistance from organized labor and its City Council allies, who don’t want to give up jobs and local control. Alderman Tom Allen of the 38th ward, a potential candidate for mayor, totally opposes Mayor Daley’s decision, as well. Ald. Pat O’Connor of the 40th Ward, who is the mayor’s City Council floor leader, recognizes that privatizing the Taste will shock most Chicagoans who’ve grown to love the annual event.
Alderman O’Connor states that, “At a time when other cities are canceling these things, Daley’s trying to find ways to keep things that are successful and are a big part of our tourism going, but put the costs on the private sector.”
The Taste of Chicago has always been a big money-maker for the city of Chicago; generating millions of dollars in profits that are used to support the city’s other festivals. Officials at the city’s Office of Special Events would not divulge how much profit was generated this year, since the attendance was down and the festival was closed to suburban restaurants. The city has owned and operated the Taste since 1980, becoming the worlds’ largest outdoor food festival. The Mayor proposes to outsource the management of the Taste of Chicago. The efforts are to find out how much private and for profit companies will bid to take over the management of the Taste and several other music festivals that the city sponsors every summer.
Mayor Daley is scheduled to propose a budget for next year in October. He said the privatization of some tasks that he has proposed for the city could be accomplished quickly enough to factor into the administration’s fiscal plans for 2011.
Under Daley’s outsourcing plans, a private organizer “would assume responsibility for planning and executing the events and providing security and clean-up services,” according to a news release from the mayor’s office.
The privatizing has worked well with other programs such as the parking meters program recently incorporated. Other ways to save money for the City of Chicago is by the Mayor himself taking a pay cut, as well as other city workers taking 24 vacation and furlough days without pay. With a budget deficit of over $600 million dollars, Chicago has a long way to go but with every little effort in the making, we are on the right track.