Emanuel administration speaks out on electric bill fee for more cops

The mayor spoke out Monday against one alderman's idea to boost electricity fees toward raising money toward more police officers

September 24, 2012

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is speaking out against one alderman’s idea to get more police officers on the street. The plan, thought up by 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas, would raise money through a monthly fee tacked on to Chicagoans electricity bills.

According to Cardenas, safety and security are huge issues in his ward, and by tacking a $5 fee on Chicagoans' Commonwealth Edison bills, the city could raise $70 million dollars towards hiring new police officers. 

"Look, our economy is not well, you know revenues are down right now and we have to find a way to prioritize things in the city’s budget, but we need all the services we have right now," he said. "We just really can’t cut anymore."

When asked about this idea Monday, Mayor Emanuel said there are 255 officers currently in the police academy, and by the end of the year, more than 450 others will be in training. And the Mayor didn't seem to keen to add any more fees to his budget plan. 

"It will not have an increase in property taxes. It will not have an increase in sales tax. It will not have an increase in fuel tax - we will hold the line on that two years in a row.  And in fact, we will actually be eliminating the per employee head tax in my budget," Emanuel said.

A spokeswoman for the Mayor later clarified that Emanuel officially opposes Cardenas’ idea.

Last week, the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago came out in support of the electricity hike.

"We're glad to see that somebody's recognizing the fact that they need to hire more policemen," said Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago. 

Camden said they are desperately short on manpower, and past city budget decisions haven't gone their way. He said as of August, more than 350 officers have retired, and the city has only hired 127 replacements.

Mayor Emanuel is scheduled to make his budget address in early October.