NOTE: The Council’s Budget Committee, originally scheduled to meet this afternoon, cancelled their meeting.

Finance Committee to Discuss More Regulations on Ride-Hailing Apps

At 10:00 a.m., the Finance Committee will take another stab at tinkering with the Mayor’s revenue plans for next year.

Since the official revenue ordinance was voted on in committee and deferred and published at last Wednesday’s full City Council Meeting, the five budget-related items listed on the Finance agenda will be taken up individually.

Two of those items further amending the Mayor’s proposed surcharges, fees, and licensing requirements for drivers who use ride-hailing apps like Uber will be introduced, discussed and potentially voted on.

Over the past week, Finance Chairman Ed Burke (14) has expressed interest in adding more licensing requirements for Uber drivers to bring in additional revenue to address the City’s financial woes.  

At last Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting, Burke said it, “simply doesn’t seem fair,” medallion taxi drivers are required to pay $500 a year for a city-issued public chauffeur’s license, while Uber drivers are exempt from the requirement. Instead, drivers employed by ride-hailing apps are required to get a special, so-called transportation network provider, or TNP, licenses.

“It might be interesting to see if those companies can be assessed a $500 per driver fee to make it more evenly spaced with the cab company,” Burke told reporters.

The following day, Ald. John Arena (45) and AldAnthony Beale (9) introduced an ordinance requiring a public chauffeur’s license for any transportation provider interested in picking up passengers at O’Hare and Midway airports, Navy Pier and McCormick Place.

That ordinance is on today’s Finance Committee agenda, in addition to another rideshare-related ordinance, which will be directly introduced.

The ordinance is in response to Ald. Roberto Maldonado’s (26) concern over the number of rideshare drivers with out-of-state license plates and its impact on passenger safety. Ald. Maldonado suggested his peers look into the legality of requiring Uber drivers to have an Illinois driver’s license, license plate, and City-owned sticker. Budget Director Alex Holt and Chairman Burke said they would look into it. When Aldertrack reached out to Ald. Maldonado Friday afternoon, he said Chairman Burke was working with the Law Department to draft the ordinance.  

The Finance Committee will take up three other Progressive Caucus-backed ordinances that would bring in additional revenue to the City.

A proposed stormwater stress fee, introduced by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35), would increase sewer fees for big box retailers and other commercial properties with large concrete parking lots that prevent rainwater from seeping into the ground.

The Progressive Caucus floated the idea of a stormwater stress fee over the summer when they announced a laundry list of cost-saving and revenue enhancing plans they wanted the Mayor include in his 2016 budget proposal. At the time, they said the tax “could ease the burden on working families while asking large corporations and other major entities to pay their fair share.” Since then, Ald. Ramirez-Rosa worked with the Mayor’s legislative aides and the Legislative Reference Bureau to research the feasibility of the fee. Ald. Ramirez-Rosa told Aldertrack that while he hasn’t had an opportunity to talk to Chairman Burke about his proposal, he has received positive feedback from the Metropolitan Planning Council and other policy groups.  

The ordinance would create a two-tier system for sewer fees; one formula for single family homes, the other for all other properties. To determine fees, the Department of Water would first have to find a median residential unit square footage. The city would aggregate the stormwater management cost for all single family homes, and then divide it by the total number of single family homes. Single-family homes would then be assessed by that amount. The same formula would apply for all other properties. Ramirez-Rosa estimates single-family sewer fees would go down as a result, while fees for large parking lot owners surfaces would go up.

Progressive Caucus aldermen are also behind an ordinance that would exemptChicago Symphony Orchestra or Lyric Opera Company tickets purchased by Chicago Public Schools or the Park District from the city’s 9% amusement tax, and another ordinance that would end tax exemption on tickets for horse drawn carriage rides.

Their ordinance to double the minimum fee for sidewalk cafe permits to $1,200 did not make it to today’s Finance agenda.

In addition to those budget related items, the Finance committee will also vote on new appointments to various Special Service Areas (SSAs) across the city, in addition to approving another round of property tax levy requests and service provider agreements for 20 SSAs.

Meanwhile, the Committee on Public Safety will hold a 9:30 a.m. hearing on city-run programs for domestic violence victims. The resolution Ald. Marge Laurino (39) and Ald. Matt O’Shea (19) introduced in June is modeled on a training program in Ohio that teaches salon workers how to identify victims, and aid in reporting abuse to local authorities. The resolution asks Public Safety Chairman Ariel Reboyras (30) to invite advocacy groups, law enforcement experts and trade associations to examine whether Chicago could do something similar. Aldermen on the committee are also set to approve the donation of a city-owned vehicle to Mexico.

The Committee on Economic, Capital and Technology will meet at 11:00 a.m. to consider two real estate tax incentives for companies interested in rehabilitating old industrial buildings. Berman Mid City Nissan applied for a Class 7(b) tax incentive to build a car dealership in two buildings in Avondale (3444-56 N. Kedzie Ave.). The Cook County Class 7(b) tax incentive lowers property taxes on qualified commercial properties for a 12-year period. If approved, Nissan would save an estimated $5.5 million.

Miller Bay, LLC applied for a class 6(b) tax incentive to subsidize the purchase and renovation of a vacant warehouse in Austin (5801 W. Dickens Ave.). The project is expected to cost $1.8 million. The Cook County Class 6(b) tax incentive lowers property taxes on qualified industrial properties for a 12-year period. If approved, the company would save an estimated $148,000.