Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's $1.1 billion borrowing plan meant to restructure the city's debt and pay down bills got the green light from the city council's Finance Committee on Monday.
Of that $1.1 billion, the highest level of borrowing thus far under the Emanuel administration, $390 million involves shifting variable-rate debt to fixed-rate debt. The plan also includes $170 million in "scoop and toss" debt restructuring, which occurs when debt is kicked down the road by a tactic that pays off current balances with new bonds.
The $1.1 in borrowing would also be used to cover obligations including a $62 million city legal settlement and $75 million in retroactive pay for police officers.
At the finance hearing, at least one council member expressed concerns over the borrowing package as well as the current uncertainty as to where the city will look for new revenues to tackle its budget woes.
"This is irresponsible," Ald. John Arena (45th) said, the Chicago Tribune reported. "It makes it very hard for me to support this strategy, because I don't know the strategy, I don't know the plan."
But Chicago's Chief Financial Officer Carole Brown argued that "it would be irresponsible not to proceed" and that "the larger conversation ... will happen."
"This is not kicking the can," she stressed. "This is not shuffling the deck chairs. This is a real step (toward) returning to a state of more fiscal responsibility."
The borrowing plan now heads to the full Chicago City Council for consideration.