Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday lashed out against a leaked report that renovations to the city's Soldier Field and U.S. Cellular Field could cost the city's taxpayers $1.1 million, though a mayor-appointed Illinois Sports Facilities Authority chief later said the number was the result of an accounting error.
In actuality, the ISFA's chief financial officer James Reynolds told the Chicago Tribune that the stadiums are short just $185,000.
Blasting the initial audit report findings during an unrelated press conference earlier in the day, Emanuel said he did not want the city's taxpayers "to be treated as if they’re just an ATM machine; they’re not," the Tribune reports.
The homes of the Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox rely heavily on hotel tax revenues in order to make payments toward the nearly $400 million in bonds issued in 2001 to help the fields' previous renovation. As hotel tax revenue had not quite kept pace with the debt payments, the city was slated to be left paying the difference, according to the Chicago News Cooperative. This is the first time the ISFA has turned to the city's portion of state income tax payments to make up for a dearth of income, CBS Chicago reports.
As the Tribune noted, though Emanuel is standing firm against the stadiums using Chicago taxpayers as "an ATM," his administration has busily upped a number of fees, fines and taxes in an effort to create much-needed revenue for the city. The mayor plans to double taxpayers' water and sewer bills over the course of the next decade. He has also doubled or tripled several other fees and fines and called for the use of red-light cameras to identify and automatically ticket motorists caught speeding in "safety zones," near public parks and schools, covering about two-thirds of the city.
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