Sharing the Costs of the Right of Way

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

The City of Chicago flourishes upon an invisible bridge connecting the City with all who enter. The bridge is a “right of way” which includes maintenance of Chicago’s streets, emergency services, traffic controls and sanitation. The bridge is breaking under the weight of over 600,000 employees entering from the suburbs daily. Non-residents do not invest in the City’s services. The citizens of Chicago cannot and should not continue subsidizing non-residents by tax increases, resident fee increases and higher utilization fees.

The Non-Resident Employee Fee will generate up to $200 million a year based on finally asking those that use this City to support its maintenance. Non-resident employees will be charged a $200 annual fee. This is a nominal fee compared to the resident’s fees and tax burdens. It will allow Chicago to generate income without a repeat tax increase request placed upon burdened citizens. It is time to ask those that are vested in Chicago through employment, to invest in the future of Chicago.

Police, Fire, OEMC, Streets and Sanitation and Transportation combine to over a billion dollars a year in costs. The fee will directly allocate revenue into these departments. Why should Chicago residents be the only people responsible for the department budgets when they are not the only people using them? How many residents of Englewood or Little Village use Traffic Management Services? Most residents are only exposed to TMS when they are Downtown. Why should residents continue to subsidize services they rarely or never use?

Chicago residents pay into the City budget while our unemployment rate rises. Over 50,000 jobs came into Chicago between 2002 and 2011 but only 13,000 went to Chicagoans. Minorities fared even worse with over 2,000 job losses to non-residents. The fee will allocate revenue to minority areas to expand employment training to balance this inequity. City resident employment should be the Chicago business community’s goal.

A Non-Resident Employee Fee is a sound practice to begin generating revenue from those that use the right of way in the City for free. Chicago needs investment not through higher taxes but through a higher way of thinking. The fee will create revenue that is directly re-invested into Chicago fairly and honestly. If it’s not free to live in the city, it can’t be free to use it.

Alderman George Cardenas
Chicago’s 12th ward

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