Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she couldn't keep raising property taxes "off the table" as the city faces a budget shortfall and Chicago businesses struggle to recover from both looting and the coronavirus shutdown.
"I can't take it off the table, but it is truly the last thing I want to do," Lightfoot said at a press conference this week.
Laying off city employees could be on the table too as the city faces an estimated budget shortfall of $700 million.
"Every city in the country is dealing with a loss of revenue," Chicago Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Samir Mayekar told FOX Business. "Cities, unlike the federal government, we have to balance our books. [Mayor Lightfoot] has two principles in mind … making sure that the most vulnerable populations of the city aren’t impacted. … She's focused on making sure we’re not driving business out of the city."
But Chicago will likely lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars after coronavirus caused the city to cancel large gatherings including the Lollapalooza music festival scheduled for later this summer, according to the Anderson Economic Group. Canceling Lollapalooza alone will result in 300 fewer jobs for the Chicago economy as well, Anderson Economic Group estimated.
Meanwhile, many business owners are picking up the pieces after looters ransacked their stores on the weekend of May 29.
“A lot of these communities are becoming deserts, a lot of our black communities, and if we don’t keep our businesses flowing in our own communities, we’ll all move out to the suburbs or something like that,” restaurant owner Nathaniel Pendleton told the Chicago Sun-Times. “We are trying to keep our neighborhoods vitalized, and we want our kids to be able to walk around and say, ‘hey, this is where I grew up’ and be proud of that fact.”
Pendleton's business, the New Look Restaurant/The Next Level, will get help from the Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives for repairs to his restaurant that were not covered by insurance, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Lightfoot also announced a $10 million commitment from the city to help businesses damaged by the riots last week.