It was a quick budget meeting with Vice Chairman Jason Ervin (28) taking over the reins from Budget Chairman Carrie Austin, who has reportedly been sick for some time. The committee approved two intergovernmental agreements with the CHA: one for additional police services, and another for conducting federally mandated environmental reviews.
Aldermen in attendance (committee members in bold): Vice Chairman Jason Ervin (28), Roderick Sawyer (6), Michelle Harris (8), Anthony Beale (9), Raymond Lopez (15), David Moore (17), Willie Cochran (20), Michael Zalewski(23), Michael Scott Jr. (24), Roberto Maldonado (26), Walter Burnett Jr. (27), Ariel Reboyras (30), Milly Santiago (31), Scott Waguespack (32), Emma Mitts (37), Brendan Reilly (42)
Ryan Elligan, attorney for the Chicago Police Department, provided a brief overview of the proposed intergovernmental agreement between the Chicago Housing Authority and the City’s Police Department. This agreement has been going on since 1999, the year CHA disbanded its police department, according to Elligan.
But Ald. David Moore (17), a former CHA employee, said he didn’t think it was appropriate for the committee to approve the agreement without being given a breakdown of cost.
“There are no figures here or anything like that,” Ald. Moore explained. “I am trying to see the cost for the past ten years, and if that amount has gone down. We tore buildings down, so the cost of policing should have gone down.”
“This is an expense neutral type of agreement that has been in place for an extended period of time,” Vice Chairman Jason Ervin responded. “Ultimately, this is essentially CHA paying the City of Chicago for services it is rendering on the city’s behalf.”
Ervin said delaying approval of the agreement wouldn’t be in the “best interest of public safety” and Ald. Moore could get the numbers from the police department through the Committee later that week.
This prompted Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) to defend Ald. Moore’s request, asking that the committee get the information through the chair by the end of the day. Ervin said they wouldn’t be getting those numbers until Thursday, the earliest, when the agreement must be approved by the full City Council.
Elligan was however able to provide some details, noting that CHA’s agreement with the police department is capped at $8 million this year, up from the average annual cost of $6 million, which has been the standard benchmark payment for the past decade. According to Elligan, CPD has diverted policing from the old high rise public housing buildings to the low and midrise buildings still in existence. The $2 million increase is not a result of more police officers at CHA buildings, as that number has actually declined, according to Elligan. It’s the gradual increase of police salaries that are contributing to the added costs.
Kimberly Worthington, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Fleet and Facility Management (FFM), testified on behalf of the second intergovernmental agreement the Budget Committee approved. Worthington said City Council approval was needed, so the city could conduct federally-required environmental reviews of CHA projects funded by federal grants to ensure they are compliant with soil, contamination, noise and historic preservation guidelines. Under the agreement, CHA will provide a $75,000 upfront payment to the City. The agreement expires in 5 years, but can be renewed upon mutual agreement.