The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

November 6, 2013

Spending in Chicago marked by desperation, political expediency, little oversight

(Continued)

“We felt it was a better outcome for the long-term economic health — not just for today’s taxpayers, but for tomorrow’s taxpayers — to invest in the future by managing through this time and sharing the burden of this difficulty across generations,” Scott said.

Yet the length of time the costs are being pushed off, together with higher interest rates, increased the amount taxpayers owe by about $40 million, after adjusting for the decreased value of future dollars.

It also means taxpayers in 2039 will be paying off bonds from 1993. Some of that original money went into public housing that was torn down more than a decade ago.

———

During the waning days of his 22 years as mayor, Daley took a victory lap around the city. One stop on his five-week “neighborhood appreciation tour” was a groundbreaking for what would become the Chicago Police Department’s new 12th District station on the Near West Side.

“Chicago is one of the few cities — and I underline very few cities — across the nation that continues to build new police stations, fire stations or even libraries,” Daley said at a news conference on that April afternoon in 2011.

But Daley’s boasts ignored the serious financial troubles facing the city.

Take that new station in the 12th District. When city officials outlined building plans in 2003, they said it would cost $21 million and open by 2005, with a single bond covering the bulk of the costs.

City officials acknowledge that they can’t track bond-funded projects because the computer program used to plan and budget for them doesn’t match up with the software that records actual spending. (The city used millions in bond money to pay for both computer programs.)

The Tribune’s analysis found that the station ultimately soaked up $36 million from six bonds by the time it finally opened last year.

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