Chicago Mayor Saved the City Even More Than Promised

December 20, 2011

Chicago’s mayor should have a pretty satisfying holiday season.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced this week that the city of Chicago has not only achieved its goal of reaching $75 million in savings for 2011, it exceeded it.

After announcing on his first day in office that he would find the savings, Emanuel and the city have saved more than $83 million through cost-cutting initiatives.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel: Fulfilling a campaign promise.

“We have not only followed through on a promise, we have exceeded it,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Our first responsibility is to the taxpayers of Chicago, and every day we are finding new ways to be more efficient in the way we do business.”

The savings did come at a cost, however, as $5.5 million of that savings came when more than 100 middle- and senior-management positions were cut and other management positions unfilled. It’s hard to save money and create jobs at the same time.

Better real estate management also contributed to the savings. The goal of $5 million in real estate reductions were achieved by canceling five city leases and consolidating the Chicago Fire and Police administrations in the same building. It’s hard to save money and fill real estate at the same time.

Other areas of savings:

*Reduce Outside Legal Counsel Expenses: Goal: $3 million; Savings Achieved: $3.3 million

*Merge Overlapping Functions Across Departments: Goal: $3.5 million combined; Savings Achieved: $3.7 million

*Freeze All Non-Essential Contract Spending: Goals: $17.5M, Savings: $23.8M

*Rationalization and Reduction of City’s Vehicle Programs: Goal: $1.5 million; Savings Achieved: $1.01 million

*Parking Enforcement and Traffic Control Efficiencies: Goal: $2.3 million; Savings Achieved: $2.3 million

*Improve Grants Management: Goal: $31.2 million; Savings Achieved: $34.2 million

*Department of Water Management/Department of Transportation Project Coordination: Goal: $5 million; Savings Achieved: $5 million

The one area of failure was Return Laborers to Work, with its Goal of $500,000 and its Savings Achieved of $0.

The city says this aspect is still a work in progress. So is its budget, as the city is still in financial crisis despite all the savings. Still, there is something to be said for a politician who actually comes through on a promise. Especially one in Illinois.

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