An influential Chicago alderman is proposing that the city's residents pay a new "safety and security fee" to help fund the hiring of 700 new police officers to combat the city's homicide surge, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The paper reports that Ald. George Cardenas (12th), chairman of the City Council's Health Committee, has no doubt that Chicago homeowners and businesses alike would be willing to foot a $5 monthly fee -- added to their Commonwealth Edison bill -- in order to get more officers on the city's streets. He estimates the fee would generate $70 million.
"I’ve talked to people and they’ve said, ‘If it helps bring the violence down, let’s do it,'" Cardenas told the Sun-Times. "In certain neighborhoods, we need more boots on the ground. Simple as that. I’m not sounding the alarm. I’m just saying in some communities, there’s a fear factor."
Murders in Chicago, through this month, are up 24 percent over the previous year. Shootings have also increased by 10 percent.
While Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy recently told NBC Chicago that he believes the city's police force already has the manpower it needs to keep crime under control, Fraternal Order of Police President Mike Shields has continually pointed out that the city's hiring of new police officers is not keeping pace with attrition.
While Emanuel promised to deliver 1,000 new police officers to Chicago's streets during his mayoral campaign, roughly half of the officers among the 1,019 redeployed to the streets were already working the streets in special, now-dissolved units.
Shields previously described that redeployments as "the Emanuel shuffle" and "smoke and mirrors."
Cardenas is the same City Council member who pushed for new taxes on soft drinks and energy drinks, as well as on bottled water, a first-of-its-kind tax that went into effect Jan. 1, 2008.
In other city revenue news, three weeks ahead of his annual budget address, Mayor Emanuel is reportedly exploring increasing the city's 9 percent amusement tax, as well as the cigarette "sin" tax. Chicago, according to the Sun-Times, is currently home to the second-highest total taxes on cigarettes in the nation.