LAKEVIEW — Lakeview homeowners and renters will feel the burn of property-tax hikes next year, but an increase in police might soften the blow.
By the end of 2016, the police district that includes Lakeview will have 43 more officers, Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said Wednesday.
Tunney said the boost in officers was part of the reason he voted to approve the city's record $589 million property-tax increase on Wednesday. The City Council passed the measure 36-14.
"I will continue to make sure our neighborhood receives the level of city services we are paying for," Tunney said in a statement.
As a result, Tunney said eight officers will be transferred in November to the Town Hall District, which includes Lakeview and parts of Uptown, Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square and North Center.
Another 25 officers will be assigned to the district during the first three months of 2016, with 10 more following during the rest of the year, Tunney said. The alderman added that the 35 officers would be in addition to the eight transferring in November.
During budget talks this fall, Tunney and Ald. James Cappleman (46th) insisted the district needed more officers after the force dropped nearly 30 percent from 2012 to August. When the district — also known as the 19th — merged with the 23rd in 2012, residents were promised that "all the officers working in the consolidated area will continue to work" there.
Adding 43 officers will increase the Town Hall police force to approximately 375 officers — more than the district has seen since at least August 2013.
Tunney gave two other reasons for his "yes" vote, one of which was a multi-million dollar investment for Lake View High School "to increase the academic rigor of the school, inclusive of an honors program, and stronger connections to area elementary schools."
He also said it would be unfair to not fund pensions promised to city police officers and firefighters.
Read Tunney's full statement below:
My vote today was the most difficult one I have had to make as an alderman. I voted for the 2016 Budget and the associated property tax increase for three reasons.
First, I have been assured that 35 additional police officers will be assigned to the 19th District in 2016, including 25 in the first quarter and another ten during the rest of the year. This is in addition to the eight officers that will be transferring to the 19th District in November.
Additionally, we need our families to stay in the city and we need our neighborhood high school to be the crown jewel of our community. This budget includes a multi-million dollar investment for Lake View High School to increase the academic rigor of the school, inclusive of an honors program, and stronger connections to area elementary schools. The investments provided in the 2016 budget will make Lake View HS the quality neighborhood option which our residents demand. This will further build on the efforts of the current leadership of Lake View High School.
The final reason I voted yes today was because there is no doubt that the men and women of the Chicago Police and Chicago Fire departments are our "Finest" and "Bravest" citizens. Our city could not survive without them. The fact is that as their employer, the City of Chicago made contractual obligations to them with regard to their pensions that must be met, and this budget does that. It is unfortunate that the funding levels were allowed to dip so low and huge lump sum payments need to be made. That is not the fault of our hard working police officers and firefighters who have contributed their share all along, but that was the reality with which the City Council had to deal today.
Moving forward, my colleagues and I need to continue to look at non-tax revenue sources while also considering how we can trim costs without cutting vital city services. We are still faced with great challenges and must address them head-on.
I know these taxes and fee increases are not easy. I will work hard to increase the exemptions of homeowners and level the playing field for small businesses in our City. I will continue to make sure our neighborhood receives the level of city services we are paying for. I believe these investments in our City's long-term financial health, the safety of our neighborhood and education of our children will help our neighborhood continue to grow and prosper.
In other City Council matters, I supported a compromise ordinance that allows ride share services access to the airports while providing relief to the taxi industry. I also voted against allowing the Lucas Museum to establish along the lakefront south of Soldier Field. I do not believe this use is a good fit for the lakefront would like to have seen additional modifications proposal.
I would like to thank everyone who took the time to contact me about these matters and I will keep you posted as things progress.
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