For the past five years, I have worked with residents and various city agencies and department heads to reduce the cost of our government. Every budget that I have voted on as your Alderman has reduced the city's structural deficit. In that time, we have made an unprecedented $600 million in cuts and eliminated 3,000 positions from the city workforce.
Earlier this year, I introduced an ordinance to eliminate free garbage collection for some multi-unit residential buildings that will save the taxpayers $3 million annually. Based on a suggestion from a resident, I also spearheaded a shift in the way credit card transactions are processed that could potentially generate $10 million in annual savings. Despite these and other cost savings efforts, the city still lacks the revenue necessary to meet its pension obligations to our first responders.
Today, the City Council passed a 2016 budget that includes significant cuts, a property tax increase and a monthly garbage collection fee to address our structural deficit and pension liabilities. These measures are painful but necessary to ensure the long term stability of our city. While our economy is recovering, without a substantial influx of revenue, pension debt could force the city into bankruptcy.
Now is the time to confront the unpleasant reality of our dire financial situation. Simply put, we cannot cut our way out of this problem. For far too long, city leaders have sought to delay difficult but necessary decisions, allowing this debt to grow and bringing us to this fiscal cliff.
Ensuring the long term economic stability of our city protects the value of all homes in Chicago. Please know that I did not arrive at the decision to support this budget lightly, or without consideration of its impact on our residents. As unpopular as this property tax is, it is the only revenue source available to fulfill our commitment to the men and women who put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis.
For too long, the city has relied on first responders to keep us safe, without adequately funding the retirement benefits they were promised. Today, I can honestly tell you that I cast my vote in favor of this budget because it is the right thing to do. A vote of "no" on this budget is a vote against the fiscal stability of Chicago and a vote against the interests of the nearly 5,000 first responders who reside in Beverly, Morgan Park and Mount Greenwood. Our police officers and firefighters deserve their pension benefits.
While I was hesitant to enact a fee related to garbage collection, that too is necessary. However, before pledging my support, I fought for important protections like a four-year fee cap, and the creation of a sanitation enterprise fund. Too often in government, money is collected for one purpose and spent for another. An enterprise fund separates all revenue generated by the garbage fee from any other municipal revenue and dictates that it can only be spent on expenses related to garbage collection and disposal.
I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts on this matter. Should you have any questions about this budget, please feel free to respond to this e-mail and I will be happy to address them.