Budget Hearings Update
Dear Neighbor:

This is the second week of hearings to consider Mayor Emanuel's  proposed budget for 2017Here is a brief re-cap.

Airbnb Regulations

Several of our priorities became topics of intense discussion during the budget hearings. One major concern has been regulating Airbnb under the new law to take effect in December.  According to Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP), over 500 buildings, totaling more than 15,000 units have joined the "opt-out" list.  Under the law, if a unit is registered as an Airbnb or vacation rental and is on the opt-out list, the City will reject the registration. The applicant then has 7 days to appeal. While the matter is on appeal, the registration remains in place. 

However, as reported by DNAinfoI was dismayed to learn that employees budgeted to implement and enforce the ordnance will not be hired until next March, four months after the law takes effect.

BACP Commissioner Maria Guerra Lapacak testified the  city is investing $300,000 to develop the software to interact with the internet listings services. She admitted, while registration software will be ready in December, the software necessary to track rejections, or illegal short term rentals, will not be operable until next spring - again, months after the new law begins.  

As I cautioned during the hearing, greater effort must be made to ready the software as well as hire and train inspectors to enforce the law or the city will have little regulatory power.


During last year's budget hearings I  withheld my vote for the budget until the Mayor's Office agreed to tackle the issue of absenteeism in the City's workforce. As a result, the  Absenteeism Task Force was formed.  This year the City's budget director, Alex Holt, testified that the city is implementing the  recommendations of the task force, including proper coding of absences, proper discipline, and posting a public dashboard of absenteeism, which you can see  here.

The Task Force exposed the problem of abuse of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) at the Office of Emergency Management Communication (OEMC). Last week under questioning, the new OEMC director testified that 49% of OEMC operators are absent  daily. The forced use of  substitute workers costs $10 million in overtime.  The  Sun-Times and   Chicago Tribune  covered the story and I was interviewed by  WTTW .  

The City has hired its first FMLA coordinator to improve compliance and reduce overtime. I will continue to press on this issue until absenteeism is slashed to more acceptable levels. Taxpayers have a right to expect a day's work for a day's pay.

Property Tax Rebate

We fought hard during last year's budget to make sure that if property tax relief was extended to some Chicago homeowners, it must reach our Ward. Currently the homeowner rebate program is not being publicized enough. Only 1% of the eligible homeowners have applied thus far. The application must be done in person, but I believe that the City should ease that standard and allow on-line applications.  DNAinfo has the story . Please apply if you believe you qualify for the rebate. 

Budget hearings continue this week and we will again be  live-tweeting from many of the hearings. Please follow our live tweets @aldermansmith43

Apply for the Chicago Property Tax Rebate

Eligible Chicago homeowners can apply for the  City of Chicago Property Tax Rebate   at any of these  26 neighborhood locations ,   including City Hall,  now through Wednesday, November 30th

Homeowners must apply for the rebate in person. Please review this previous newsletter for further information  and visit the city's webpage on the Chicago Property Tax Rebate to see if you qualify. 

Go Cubs Go!

Michele Signature

Michele Smith
Alderman, 43rd Ward 

43rd Ward Office Hours: M 9 AM - 7 PM, T-F 9 AM - 6 PM 
 2523 N Halsted | 773-348-9500| yourvoice@ward43.org| www.ward43.org