When Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s $16.7 billion budget for 2022 comes up for a vote this week, it appears to be ready to clear the full City Council.
The spending plan, supported by nearly $2 billion in federal relief funds, includes money for a range of city departments that will translate to tangible outcomes throughout Chicago. While property taxes will increase a bit, there’s money to support mental health services, the Chicago Police Department and even new trees.
Here’s what city homeowners, business owners and the average Chicagoan needs to know about the 2022 budget:
Will my residential property taxes go up?
Yes, but only a little. The Chicago City Council’s Finance Committee approved Lightfoot’s $1.71 billion property tax levy for 2022. For the owner of a home valued at $250,000—the standard measure city officials cite—the increase will add $38 annually to tax bills , finance officials said.
How about taxes on my commercial property?
The exact breakdown of commercial property tax increases is not yet publicly available, but commercial landlords should expect taxes to increase based on recent assessments from Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi’s office.
Is there direct relief for businesses?
The mayor’s recovery plan includes $20 million for marketing campaigns run by the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events to promote Chicago tourism and travel industries. Another $51 million will be used to provide grants to revitalize commercial corridors.
After receiving some initial backlash for the 2022 budget not including direct COVID relief for businesses, Lightfoot announced a $22 million round of grants for small businesses, nonprofits, bars and restaurants. The funding comes from the CARES Act and isn’t included in the 2022 budget. Grant applications are open through Nov. 12 and money will be distributed in December.
Will my neighborhood get more police officers?
Not right away. While the CPD budget is increasing to $1.9 billion, up from $1.7 billion 2021, the number of police officers is not increasing that much. There were 14,095 full-time equivalent positions in the police department this year. The budget recommends expanding it to 14,102 positions. However, CPD has had difficulty recruiting during the COVID-19 pandemic and administering exams to officers in training. Later this month and in December, CPD will host a series of in-person exams at City College campuses.
What’s being done about crime?
The city is investing about $85 million in violence prevention programs, a key demand of progressive groups. That includes staffing for the city’s Community Safety Coordination Center, where city officials coordinate with non-profits working on violence intervention programming and supportive services that prevent youth crime. The funding will also support victims of crime with mental health services, housing and food.
Will there be more funding to support mental health?
The city will allocate $108 million to the Chicago Department of Public Health and other city agencies to strengthen mental health care and wellness services throughout the city. Part of the funds will be used to set up or bolster care centers staffed with trauma specialists, and invest in mobile team-based care, early-childhood mental health and services for children with developmental disabilities. The Health Department will also strengthen intensive outpatient treatment services for people fighting substance abuse. Though some progressives pushed for the city to reopen closed mental health clinics, in a last-minute tweak Lightfoot agreed to add 29 staffers to the Health Department to offer later hours at the city’s existing mental health clinics and to offer more youth services.
What about funding to prevent homelessness?
More than $200 million will be allocated to expanding housing services to people at risk of homelessness, as well as creating more permanent housing. Plans include new units for permanent supportive housing across newly rehabbed buildings. Another late budget amendment will add more outreach workers to the city’s Department of Family & Support Services.
Will my block be getting new trees?
It’s possible. As part of its recovery plan, the city is spending $86.8 million on environmental justice initiatives. One particular plan includes planting 15,000 trees a year for five years. This budget adds more tree trimming staff as well, but doesn’t include a demand that some advocates made to start ash tree inoculations.
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