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Civic Federation approves of city's 2013 budget

Chicago is moving in the right direction with its proposed 2013 budget. That’s according to the Civic Federation, a 118 year old nonpartisan budget watchdog group.

Civic Federation President Laurence Msall said Mayor Rahm Emanuel is showing restraint by not raising property taxes, eliminating the employee head tax ahead of schedule and allowing seven TIF districts to expire. Msall also noted Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to eliminate 275 city jobs.

But the Civic Federation still has concerns about the city’s financial situation.

Msall said the city still relies too heavily on one-time revenue sources. According to the Civic Federation’s report, about $47 million of the 2013 budget comes from sources like declaring TIF surpluses and restructuring existing debt to take advantage of lower interest rates.

The Civic Federation is also recommending the city leave more money aside for unforeseen costs, like the recent court decision in the firefighter discrimination lawsuit.

But Msall said the elephant in the room is still pensions for city employees.

“Every Chicagoan is on the hook for approximately $7,000 per man woman and child just in pension promises, and as a result, everybody is going to have to pay more and receive less,” Msall said.

During his testimony to aldermen on Wednesday, Msall said state and local legislators are to blame for underfunding their pension systems in the past.

Chicago’s pension systems are short by about $16.7 billion.

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