Chicago City Council Update 4/29/2022
The Committee on Finance (COF) held hearings on 15 CPS school improvements and 4 Chicago Park District park improvements. All of the TIFs were approved by the Committee and passed the full City Council on Wednesday. The TIF funding for the schools were focused on funding assistance to repair and replace building automation systems that control the schools’ environmental and mechanical equipment. The Committee held hearings on two police settlements totaling $600,000. The Committee also passed new bond inducement language that was worked on in conjunction with the Dept. of Finance CFO to save about $8 million on the upcoming water and sewer line projects.
The City Council approved changes to the City’s sexual harassment laws including:
· Adding sexual misconduct to the definition. Sexual misconduct is defined as any behavior of a sexual nature which also involves coercion, abuse of authority, or misuse of an individual’s employment position
· Requiring all employers to have a written policy on sexual harassment
· Requiring all employers to post a written notice on sexual harassment
· Increasing the statute of limitations from 300 to 365 days
· Creates flexibility to notify a respondent up to 30 days from the time of
complaint (compared to 10 days currently), to mitigate any retaliation such
as denial of a reasonable accommodation request
· Requiring additional annual training for all employees including the one hour of prevention training aligned with State requirements and one hour of bystander intervention. Supervisors and managers are required to have an
additional one hour of training
· Increasing the penalty for individuals or businesses that participate in
discriminatory practices in the workplace including sexual harassment. The penalty is increasing from $500 - $1,000 per violation to $5,000 to $10,000. The written policy, written notice, and required training components of the ordinance go into effect July 1, 2022.
The Council also approved an ordinance amendment that eliminates towing and storage fees assessed for impounded stolen vehicles. Prior to this
amendment, the City was required by ordinance to charge towing and storage fees to the vehicle owner when their stolen vehicle was towed and impounded. The Chicago Police Department and the Department of Streets and Sanitation will now return vehicles free of any charges levied. The departments will now be able to release stolen vehicles to their owners in alignment with this new law.
Chicago City Council passed Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot’s Chicago
Moves program. The program was created in response to the recent spike in gas prices and the need for expedited transportation assistance for City residents. Now approved, Chicago Moves will provide $12.5 million in relief funding for Chicagoans through prepaid gas cards for up to 50,000 drivers and prepaid transit cards for up to 100,000 transit riders. The program was modified following input from the City Council.
Mayor Lightfoot recently chose ward constituent Deborah Witzburg as the next Inspector General for the City of Chicago and she was confirmed this week by City Council. OIG Witzburg has over a decade of experience in Chicago government, and was previously appointed as the Public Safety Inspector General. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) has jurisdiction over City employees; elected officials such as the Mayor, Aldermen, the City Clerk, and the City Treasurer; as well as appointed officials, contractors, and vendors who provide goods and services across our city.
The Council approved several Open Space Impact Fee expenditures for nearby projects. The habitat and public open space projects received over $2.5 million in Open Space Impact Fees Two nearby projects will include:
· $1.76 million in OSIF funding to expand an existing riverfront learning
platform at 1440 N. Kingsbury St. called the “Wild Mile” on the east side of Goose Island
· Approximately $681,200 in OSIF funding would help fund environmental
clean-up costs for vacant land at 1807 N. Kimball Ave. in Logan Square, which is identified as a future access point to the Bloomingdale Trail
In the Plan Commission hearings before the City Council vote, we approved three projects in the area.
· An affordable housing development to be developed in the rapidly gentrifying area around the Bloomingdale Trail on the Northwest side. The bond inducement ordinance for up to $19,500,000 in tax-exempt housing bonds/notes for affordable and mixed-income development would allow for the redevelopment of City-owned property at 3737 W. Cortland Street to create Encuentro Square. This is at the intersection of two rail lines for Metra, and the end of the 606 in the 26th Ward.
· Two park open space projects at Sacramento and Milwaukee (Linden Place) and at Milwaukee and Logan Boulevard. We have been working for years to do legal and planning work on the two sites with the Logan Square Preservation board and neighbors. The two projects will complement the new housing and Bicentennial project underway around the Logan Monument.
- 2550 N Milwaukee, 3131 W Logan Boulevard: The zoning change to POS-2 Parks and Open Space District, allows the lot north of the old Mega Mall site to be designated park space.
- 2420 N Sacramento - Changed zoning to a POS-2 Parks and Open Space District. An auto repair shop was illegally parking vehicles prior to the change, allowing us to check for environmental issues, and renew the space to be used by food vendors, food trucks, and open seating area for residents. Maintenance of the sites could be furthered by the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce proposal for a Logan Square Special Service Area.
The City also introduced an ordinance to restart the MeterSave water meter installation program, prevent future privatization of the water system, and codify the end of water shutoffs for non-payment. Mayor Lightfoot also encouraged Chicagoans to apply for water bill relief through the state/federal Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP), in addition to the City’s existing Utility Billing Relief (UBR) program.
The MeterSave program was halted in 2019 to address construction concerns with possible lead pipe contamination during installation. Residents will be able to apply for the free water meter installation, and water conservation kits. Water meters measure the amount of water a residence uses and bills the resident accordingly, resulting in substantial savings on water bills for most households. Over 130,000 meters have been installed through the program, and residents saw an average savings of over 50% on their water bills. If you are one of our residents looking to obtain the water meter visit metersave.org and follow the instructions for registration.
Mayor Lightfoot also listened to the efforts to prohibit the future privatization of the water system and to ensure long-term affordability of water for Chicagoans. The ordinance also permanently codifies the end of water shutoffs due to non-payment, which Mayor Lightfoot implemented as a practice in May of 2019.
Eligible Chicago residents can also apply for another source of water bill assistance—the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). This is a federally funded program, administered by the State of Illinois, to assist low- income households with paying their past-due water and wastewater (sewer) bills. The Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County (CEDA) is the agency administering LIHWAP. Visit www.cedaorg.net or call 1-800-571-2332 to learn more and apply to LIHWAP and other CEDA programs, including gas and electric bill assistance such as LIHEAP.
All committees and Council meetings can be viewed at the City Clerk website, Plan Commission meetings are viewed via the Dept. of Planning and Development.