News - Bill's Blog

How long will Chicago have to wait for its financial report this year?

June 11, 2019

I’m not talking about the Sox or the Cubs, or any pennant race.

In an article this morning, Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times reported on some concerns among members of the Chicago City Council over new Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to cut the budgets of several council committees.

Notably, at the end of the article, Spielman reported on the confirmation of Susie Park as city Budget Director, and on what Park told reporters after the Council meeting.

Since her election, Lightfoot has spoken of inheriting a massive budget shortfall. Park was asked by reporters about the size of the hole after the meeting. She said she was waiting for the results of the annual city audit before answering the question.

This sounds like a responsible response, if not a whiff of fresh air. In the past, city leaders have talked about budgets as if they are reality. Budgets are prospective, planning documents, and the audited results arrive after the budget year, when we get some clues whether the government really ‘walked the talk’ on its stated intentions.

Consider that the Illinois state legislature recently passed massive budget legislation without an audited financial report being available, at least to the public. Illinois has been without audited financial results for more than 700 days.

Those audited results aren't perfect, given cash-like accounting for funds statements. But how long will we have to wait for Chicago’s annual audited financial report this year?

The City of Chicago states that it is required by state law to produce its annual report within 6 months of the end of the fiscal year. In recent years, the June 30 deadline has come and gone, and the report takes a few weeks to finally appear ...

… and with a letter of transmittal to the citizens dated June 30, the date it was required to be produced.

Will the new administration follow in past footsteps? Or will the early breath of fresh air remain breathing?

Do Jake and Elwood need to shine their shoes?

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