The Chicago City Council approved an ordinance at its monthly meeting Thursday that will legalize and license food cart vendors in the city who sell cut fruit, tamales and other food items.
Food cart vendors who sell cooked food or cut fruits or vegetables had been banned in the city. Under the new ordinance, they will now have to get approval from the city's Health Department, obtain a $350 city license and pay sales tax to operate legally.
Also at Thursday's council meeting, aldermen authorized a $500 million borrowing plan for the city meant to pay down and refinance the city's debt. Of that $500 million, $225 million is for "scoop and toss" debt restructuring, which involves kicking debt down the road.
The mayor proposed the borrowing plan back in July. During his Tuesday budget address, Emanuel promised to have the city's use of scoop and toss budgeting practices ended by 2019.
Two other bond issuances were approved by the council Thursday. According to the mayor's office, they include "up to $2 billion in senior lien airport revenue bonds, with $1.7 billion allocated to refunding outstanding debt and $300 million for new projects at O'Hare International Airport" and $125 million in sewer bonds to "convert existing variable-rate bonds to a fixed-rate mode and to terminate swaps used to hedged interest-rate risk."
"Over the last four years and with my 2016 budget proposal, we are reforming the bad and unsustainable financial practices of the past and eliminating hundreds of millions of dollars of risk to Chicago taxpayers," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "These bond ordinances continue Chicago on a path toward a secure and stable financial future, while continuing to invest and improve city infrastructure."
In other council news, aldermen also approved Emanuel's appointment of John Hooker as the new Chicago Housing Authority board chairman. Hooker replaces Zaldwaynaka "Z" Scott, who Emanuel appointed as CHA board chairman back in 2011.
Hooker is ComEd's former executive vice president of legislative and external affairs.
Additionally, Ald. Raymond Lopez (15th) introduced an ordinance that would get rid of the $75 permit fee that people with disabilities have to pay when they need to get a new one when they move to a new address.
"This renewal fee is especially burdensome on persons who are already dealing with limited mobility and may be on fixed income as well," said Lopez. "People should of course report the change of address that is linked to their license plates and their parking permit. But we should not nickel-and-dime our residents, especially those who can least afford it."