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City budget hearings begin today

The City Council debate over Chicago's next budget begins Wednesday when aldermen start their questioning of Emanuel Administration officials.

It's the first of about a dozenCity Council hearings on Rahm Emanuel's first Chicago budget. To fill an estimated $636 million hole, the budget relies in part on new and increased fines, fees and taxes - but mostly on cuts, including some 500 layoffs.

Pat O'Connor, perhaps Emanuel's strongest ally on the council, said aldermen looking to make changes will have to come up with ways to pay for them.

"If you say, 'We don't want to do this,' and it's an item that gives us a $10 million savings, than replace it with a $10 million savings that you think makes more sense," O'Connor told WBEZ's Eight Forty-Eight last week.

Some aldermen have pushed back against a handful of Emanuel's cuts. The mayor's budget would give aldermen less control over garbage collection in their wards, and he wants to close three neighborhood police stations he says are outdated.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in City Council chambers.

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