I like money. My husband teases me about my attempts to “single-handedly save Chicago’s economy” regularly. But my love of money doesn’t mean I lose sight of my values. However, as Chicago mayoral candidates consider fundraising for campaigns, chatting up constituents, and securing support from political groups, I can’t help but think about a few trivial issues that plague me.
Saving Money in Chicago
I would like answers to three questions: What is your plan for the city’s potholes? How much money will be set aside for the flora and fauna on Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue? Will my favorite restaurant finally be granted a liquor license? Myopic? Maybe these questions for Chicago’s mayoral candidates don’t embrace the full spectrum of issues, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these thoughts crossed my neighbors’ minds too.
And what’s wrong with wondering about potholes and landscaping and booze? As Chicago struggles to fit into the state’s budget while attempting to not raise taxes, trivial issues are easily ignored. But these trivial concerns are where the city could make and save a few dollars to address the larger picture.
Chicago Cures Cost More than Prevention
After a pothole flattened my tire last winter, I discovered the City of Chicago’s website had a place to report damage for reimbursement. While I applaud Chicago’s efforts to take responsibility for its poor pavement issues, I can’t help but wonder if the cost of repaying individuals for damage is more than the cost of repairing the problem.
While driving down Lake Shore Drive, I love the sun reflecting off of Lake Michigan and the skyscrapers defining Chicago’s skyline. No argument, Chicago is more visually appealing than 10 years ago, but I can’t help but wonder how much the city spends on planting and maintaining the flowers and greenery. I see aesthetic value and visual appeal for tourism, but considering the economic climate of the city, are there cost-saving alternatives?
As BYOB restaurants crop up across the city, restaurants lost clientele to establishments with full service bars. In June, changes to liquor licensing were finally made to allow probationary licenses while undergoing the process for obtaining a permanent license. While time will tell how much revenue the new process will bring to the city, at least one source for additional funds demonstrates change.
Budget Cuts Mean Increased Taxes
Regardless of who is elected Illinois’ governor in November, further budget cuts will be made statewide and taxes will increase in attempts to get the state out of debt. Looking at the wider picture is not providing answers; maybe it’s time for a different approach. If elected officials started to tackle some of the smaller problems at a more local level and work their way up, could some of the financial woes be addressed?
While it may be too simplistic to evaluate Chicago’s budget and spending from this perspective, the current approach isn’t exactly saving money for the city. A new mayor for Chicago means a new approach to city budget and spending. Through examining smaller line items, even only a few hundred dollars saved may be a few hundred dollars to put toward education or creating jobs. Being from the Land of Lincoln, a few extra pennies would be nice to have in our pockets.
City of Chicago. (2010). Retrieved October 3, 2010, from http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/bacp/provdrs/liquor_licenses/news/2010/jun/city_passes_changestoliquorlawsthatallowforconditionalapprovalof.html