Chicagoans vented their frustrations over items in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s 2016 budget proposal, including a record $588 million property tax hike, during a Thursday night town hall meeting hosted by the city council’s Progressive Reform Caucus.
In addition to the proposed property tax increase, the three progressive caucus members at the meeting, Alds. Scott Waguespack (32nd), Nicholas Sposato (38th) and John Arena (45th), got an earful from residents about Emanuel’s proposals to privatize the city’s 3-1-1 non-emergency operations and increase fees on taxi cabs and ride-hailing services, like Uber and Lyft.
Emanuel wants to outsource 3-1-1 operations to save the cash-strapped city an estimated $1 million annually.
Debra Powell, a 3-1-1 operator of 10 years, said the privatization plan could cost 58 call center jobs and negatively impact the quality of service provided to Chicagoans.
“You don’t know who you’re going to be talking to when you call 3-1-1 and it’s been outsourced,” Powell said at the budget town hall meeting, held at the Copernicus Center on the Northwest Side. “I would rather speak with someone who lives in the city, born and raised, knows the neighborhoods. We have … 58 operators there who live all across the city, … so we pretty much can relate to all the residents calling in.”