• Erin Hegarty
    OCT 08, 2021

    Chicago Public Library, law and transportation departments to detail their budgets on final day of hearings

    Comm. Gia Biagi on Friday will answer aldermen’s question on CDOT’s proposed 2022 budget. 

    Leaders of the Chicago Public Library system, the Department of Law and the Department of Transportation (CDOT) will defend proposed increases in their budgets on Friday during the final day of departmental budget hearings. 

    Hearings are again expected to stretch into the evening as CDOT details its budget, which is set to double under the proposed 2022 spending plan.  

    Chicago Public Library 

    The Chicago Public Library would see a leap in funding from just over $85.5 million in 2021 to more than $130.6 million in 2022. The budget increase is due to a more than $10 million hike in funding from the city’s Corporate Fund and a $35 million jump in money from “Other Grant Funds,” city budget documents show. 

    But the library is set to net only one additional full-time equivalent position to its employment roll.  

    The department operates 78 library branches and three regional libraries, and library officials plan to have all 81 locations open on Sundays by the end of this year, budget documents show. 

    Library officials last year saw a funding boost, thanks mostly to a jump in state grant funding.  

    Related: Chicago Public Library could see funding increase, $23K hike in commissioner salary in 2021 

    The city’s Library Fund supports the system’s maintenance and operations and is funded by a combination of the library’s portion of the city’s property tax levy, library fines and facility rental revenue. 

    The library system would see a more than $300,000 drop in funding for “equipment,” but stands to see a $10 million boost “for purchase of Chicago Public Library books and materials,” according to budget documents. 

    The library’s Property Management Services division is set to nearly double from seven employees in 2021 to 13 under Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s proposed 2022 budget.  

    The library system this year “joined various city departments and agencies” for an “all-government approach to neighborhood safety” by adding evening hours and “after-hours outdoor events for youth,” according to budget documents. 

    Library leaders plan next year to incorporate new programs and events focused on “equity and justice.” The library system will also undergo a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion assessment and will use the findings to launch training for employees. 

    Additionally next year, library officials plan to create a “comprehensive security and safety plan” and ensure employees have completed “trauma-informed training.”   

    Department of Law 

    Chicago’s Department of Law would grow under Lightfoot’s proposed 2022 budget by 10 full-time equivalent positions and would see a funding boost of nearly $2.7 million.  

    The law department serves as the legal adviser for Chicago’s mayor, city departments, commissions and the City Council. 

    Under Lightfoot’s proposed budget, the law department would add positions under the Corporation Counsel’s Office, Constitutional and Commercial Litigation, Employment Litigation, Corporate Labor and Federal Civil Rights Litigation, including an “Administrative Assistant to Deputy Corporation Counsel” position. 

    Aldermen this year have pushed Corporation Counsel Celia Meza for information on retaining their own parliamentarian following meetings where aldermen called into question Lightfoot’s enforcement of rules and procedures. 

    Related: Aldermen push for City Council parliamentarian: ‘We have seen absolute chaos’ 

    Law department officials counted as a win the lawsuit they filed against third-party meal delivery companies GrubHub and DoorDash for “engaging in deceptive and unfair business practices that harm Chicago restaurants and mislead consumers,” budget documents show. 

    The department in 2021 also “increased hiring of diverse attorneys,” who accounted for 35 percent of new hires this year, according to budget documents. 

    Department of Transportation 

    The Chicago Department of Transportation would see its budget double from $621.3 million to more than $1.2 billion under Lightfoot’s proposed 2022 budget. 

    The department is expected to see the biggest funding increase in its Division of Engineering, which is set to soar from $453 million to nearly $1.1 billion as the city works on Lightfoot’s five-year “Chicago Works” capital plan.  

    Related: Capital plan must sharpen its goals for bike and bus lanes, advocates say 

    Under Lightfoot’s proposed budget, CDOT would add a Citywide Services section staffed with 11 employees and helmed by a deputy commissioner with a salary of $142,680.  

    CDOT leaders plan next year to complete  a citywide expansion of the Divvy bikeshare program, including to neighborhoods on the city’s Far Southwest and Northwest Sides. Once complete, the system is set to include more than 800 stations and 16,500 bikes, according to budget documents.  

    The department in September released its Chicago Community Cycling Network Update, under which the department plans this year and in 2022 to spend $17 million on 100 miles of “new and upgraded bike lanes,” according to a CDOT news release. 

    Transportation officials also expect next year to launch construction of the long-promised Damen Green Line CTA station along the Kinzie Industrial Corridor.  

    The department plans to complete the 43rd Street Pedestrian Bridge over DuSable Lake Shore Drive and wrap up the final phase of the Wells-Wentworth Connector through The 78 site, “creating a new connection between the South Loop and Chinatown,” budget documents show.  

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