Greetings!

August marks the official beginning of the City of Chicago's budget season. To begin the budget process, the City has recently released its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. This report closes the books on the prior year's finances with a comprehensive, independent audit of the City's financials. The 2021 report reflected the City's improved financial position coming out of the pandemic. In 2021, the City was able to reduce its general obligation debt by approximately $800 million, and since 2019 the City has reduced total long-term debt across all accounts by over $1.3 billion. Total City revenues during 2021 were $10.26 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion from 2020 due to a combination of COVID-19 related grant funding, debt financing, and the increase in revenues from sales taxes, amusement taxes and the restaurant tax.

Next, the City will publish the Budget Forecast, which gives the City Council and the public a baseline for what to expect in terms of City revenues and expenditures in the coming fiscal year, including any budget gap. Using the information contained in the forecast, the Mayor's office then releases its Budget Recommendations, which provides line-by-line budget details for the City's various funds and departments. The City Council then holds a series of public hearings with City Departments on the proposed budget and makes recommendations on where cuts or improvements can be made to meet the needs of the residents of Chicago's 50 Wards. For this year, budget hearings are scheduled to begin around late-September/early-October, following the Mayor's Budget Address. These public meetings are hosted by the Committee on the Budget and Government Operations, which I chair. The final budget must be passed by City Council and approved by the Mayor by December 31st every year.

I take my role as Budget Chair incredibly seriously and am proud to host weeks of intense, days-long budget hearings to get to the best budget for the City of Chicago. I also am very grateful for the contributions of my fellow aldermen, the public, all the City departments, and the Mayor's office for their hard work and sacrifice putting together the yearly budget. As exact dates for the budget meetings are set, they will be posted publicly, and I encourage you to participate (either in-person or remotely). Public engagement is the cornerstone of the budget process, and will continue to be under my leadership of the Budget Committee. Check out the Budget Committee's website for more information about my committee and to access budget documents as they are published.

As always, the 3rd Ward Public Service Office staff and I are available to assist you by phone 773-373-9273 or via email at Ward03@cityofchicago.org. Thank you for reading this newsletter. Please share it with a neighbor or friend.

Sincerely,

Pat Dowell
Alderman, 3rd Ward