CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel marked his first 100 days in office Monday by highlighting his progress in cutting city spending and implementing reforms aimed at improving government operations and public transparency.
The city has realized $51 million of $75 million in proposed 2011 budgetary savings through various measures, Emanuel said at a news conference Monday and in a letter addressed to the public ahead of his 100-day mark on Tuesday. He pledged before taking office to achieve the savings this year.
The savings come from cuts in senior management, a reduction in the use of outside legal counsel, freeing all nonessential contract spending, reducing the city's vehicle fleet, improved grant management, cuts made to parking enforcement and traffic control staff, and other management maneuvers.
Officials expect to achieve $10 million to $12 million in additional savings by the end of the year through seasonal labor reductions and several outsourcing initiatives that include employee benefits management and custodial services at airports and libraries, Emanuel said in the letter.
"The goals I set for my administration hold me, and my team, accountable to the people who pay the bills and rely on us to be responsible stewards of the city budget: the taxpayers," the mayor said in the public letter.
Emanuel touted progress on other fronts as he seeks to make good on campaign promises.
The city has adopted a policy to provide long-term financial planning figures, deployed more than 750 additional officers to neighborhood patrol duty, put in place ethics reforms that limit gifts to employees, began posting noncompetitive contracts for public review, and posted online other city data such as employee salaries and existing contracts.
While citing his progress in addressing his goals outlined during the campaign, the mayor acknowledged the tough road ahead. "This is a down payment," he said.
The challenges ahead are topped by $636 million in red ink in the next city budget that is to be unveiled in October. A recent financial analysis commissioned by Emanuel warns of a $741 million deficit at the same time next year and $791 million the following year even amid growing tax revenue.
The city must rein in the costs of growing spending levels on employees and pensions to achieve long-term fiscal stability, according to analysts. The city will likely need union concessions to achieve such results. Emanuel said other top goals remain improving safety and schools' academic performance, extending the school day and year, and creating jobs.
On the fiscal front, Chicago later this week is expected to file a lawsuit against the Illinois cities of Kankakee and Channahon over their role in allowing companies to use sites there as points of purchase on large sales items to avoid the city's higher sales tax.