News in brief: Delivery fee caps set for approval; $134M Cook County Forest Preserves budget faces final vote
DELIVERY COMMISSION CAPS TO GO — Aldermen are set to virtually gather at 1 p.m. on Tuesday for a joint meeting of the City Council Committee on Finance and Committee on License and Consumer Protection, which will consider a proposal by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to cap delivery fees on take-out orders in an attempt to throw a lifeline to struggling restaurants. The ordinance (O2020-5705), which is sponsored by Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) and Ald. Matt O’Shea (19), would temporarily bar third-party delivery services like DoorDash and Grubhub from charging fees on online orders that exceed 10 percent of the total order cost. It would also prohibit the services from charging “any combination of fees, commissions or costs” exceeding 15 percent of orders placed through the service. “We need to make sure every bit of resources that can be earned by restaurants and their employees is maximized during this difficult time,” Lightfoot said on Monday of the proposed ordinance, which she announced earlier this month. O’Shea told The Daily Line on Monday that the ordinance is part of a recognition that the city “needs to do more to protect restaurants” in the city, which are bracing for a “long, dark, cold winter” as COVID-19 restrictions tighten. However, a spokesperson for DoorDash wrote in a statement that the proposed ordinance “could cause us to increase costs for customers, which could lead to fewer orders for local restaurants and fewer earning opportunities for Dashers.” The spokesperson added that aldermen “should oppose this ordinance and seek alternative solutions that preserve choice for restaurants and ensure Chicagoans can continue to access safe and affordable food delivery.” The ordinance would remain in place for 90 days after restaurants are allowed to resume indoor service at 40 percent capacity.
Separately on Tuesday, the finance committee will host a 10 a.m. public hearing on Lightfoot’s proposal (O2020-5747) to raise the city’s property tax levy by nearly $94 million and tie subsequent annual increases to the Consumer Price Index. The committee is also scheduled to hold a hearing on a proposed Multifamily Mortgage Revenue loan for the John Pennycuff Memorial Apartments at 2031-37 N. Milwaukee Ave. in the 1st Ward. A vote will not be taken on either item on Tuesday.[Alex Nitkin]
DECISION TIME FOR FOREST PRESERVES BUDGET — Cook County Commissioners, who double as members of the county’s Forest Preserve District Board, are scheduled to meet at 9:50 a.m. to approve county board President Toni Preckwinkle’s $134 million proposed 2021 budget for the forest preserve district. County budget officials were able to dip into savings, freeze hiring and roll back non-personnel spending to avoid layoffs or significant tax hikes despite a 26 percent drop in revenue from fines and fees. Forest Preserve District Supt. Arnold Randall warned in a budget hearing earlier this month that while the proposed budget avoids pain in the short term, it “does not represent a sustainable situation” as the district faces a backlog of deferred maintenance and unfunded pension costs. Cook County Comm. Larry Suffredin (D-13), the only commissioner who voted against last year’s forest preserves budget, said he will push on Tuesday for commissioners to support a referendum asking voters for permission to raise the district’s property tax levy to shore up its finances.
In other Cook County action on Tuesday, the county’s Commission on Human Rights is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. to consider items including the proposed Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance and implementation of the county’s Just Housing Ordinance (19-2394). The county board’s Zoning and Building Committee held a two-hour hearing on Monday to consider the Residential Tenant Landlord Ordinance, which would mirror Chicago’s ordinance and apply to most of suburban Cook County. At 2 p.m., the county board’s Health & Hospitals Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing to discuss progress on the county’s COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.[Nitkin]