Though Mayor Rahm Emanuel bowed slightly to various criticisms of his proposed budget last week as he restored some funding to the city's libraries and other programs, his plan to double or even triple many of the city's fines and fees is likely to attract more skepticism.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that fines for a number of offenses and "nuisances" would be increased drastically under Emanuel's plan to increase revenue for the direly cash-strapped city by an estimated $220 million.
Individuals caught driving with a suspended or revoked license will now need to pay up $1,000, double the current fine. Those ticketed with noise violations will be fined up to $750. For those ticketed for drag racing in the city, a $1,000 fine will now be charged beyond towing and any storage charges, according to the Sun-Times.
Various nuisance fines are also set to be increased. Illegal dumping or allowing trash to accumulate in a way that attracts rodents will be fined between $300 and $600, up from its previous $250-to-$500 range. And if one is charged with allowing weeds on their property to grow beyond a height of 10 inches will face a fine of up to $1,200 per day, up from the previous $1,000 limit.
Other fine and fee increases have already been made public as part of the mayor's proposed budget. Emanuel already proposed a "congestion fee" increasing the fee for certain downtown parking lots during certain times of the day. The mayor has also pushed for increased hotel taxes, water and sewer fees and city sticker rates for all drivers -- not only those driving SUVs, trucks or other gas-guzzling vehicles -- with only two exceptions: senior citizens and motorcyclists.
Emanuel has also called for the use of red-light cameras to identify and automatically ticket motorists recorded traveling above the speed limit in "safety zones" including public parks and schools. Though the mayor has said the cameras are about helping get kids to school safely, some have criticized the push as more about generating revenue than keeping young Chicagoans safe.
As proposed, the mayor's red-light camera plan's enforceable "safety zone" boundaries would cover about two-thirds of the city.
(Watch a news report on Emanuel's push for red-light cameras below.)
Chicago aldermen have also submitted their fair share of other ideas to help raise revenue for the city. Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) has proposed that mobile electronic ticketing be used to more easily and efficiently fine property owners who fail to clear their snow-covered sidewalks. Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) has suggested requiring that bicyclists obtain licenses. Others have suggested a crackdown on fining Chicagoans who have not registered their dogs with the city.