Chicago given many painful ways to escape budget mess

City income tax, Lake Shore Drive tolls, higher ambulance fees among options suggested by inspector general
By Hal Dardick, Kristen Mack and John Chase, Tribune reporters7:44 a.m. CDT, September 27, 2011

As Mayor Rahm Emanuel prepares to present his first budget next month, Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson is tossing out dozens of ways to raise more money and cut the size of city government.

Many of them are politically poisonous: a city income tax, tolls on Lake Shore Drive, higher ambulance fees. Others could conceivably gain traction: making garbage pickup more efficient, cutting layers of management and making all city employees work 40 hours a week.

Each of the 63 ideas, Ferguson says, is pointed toward highlighting the desperate plight of city finances in the coming years and the need for action to head off a financial meltdown.