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Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the first round of winning Innovation Loan Fund proposals submitted by City Departments that will improve cost savings, revenue gains, and service delivery in the Department of Finance, BACP and the Department of Buildings. The Innovation Loan Fund is a new tool created during the 2012 budget process to incentivize and encourage City Departments to be innovative and entrepreneurial in thinking about how City government can function more efficiently on behalf of the taxpayers.
“As a City we must constantly push the envelope, and strive for more innovative solutions so we can deliver the highest quality service possible. The Innovation Loan Fund will encourage Department employees at every level of City government to submit their ideas on how we can run this city more effectively and cost efficiently,” said Mayor Emanuel.
The following proposals were selected and will receive a total of $2 million from the $20 million set aside for the projects:
Private Benefit signs are any signs that delineate the area of the public way for private use, including loading zone signs, valet parking signs, driveway signs, taxicab signs, trolley stands, and any other signage that benefits businesses. The City does not have a current, accurate listing of all private benefit signs in the City. The billing records to the private entities benefiting from the signs contain numerous errors and outdated information, causing billing losses.
The Private Benefit Sign Innovation Fund project seeks to connect billing and costs for signs to the Private Entities that benefit from the signage. Under the project, BACP, CDOT, and Finance will connect signage with the current business owner and establish a protocol for maintaining all private benefit signs through the Department of Finance’s billing function. This will enable the City to bill the correct business, and therefore, recoup currently largely unrealized revenue from private benefit signs.
This ILF project will create an online Google map of all current private benefit signs and uses, and then link the signs to the private entity that should be paying for the sign. A new protocol will be established for maintaining all signs through the Department of Finance billing function. The benefits of this project are the following:
“In City government we must think creatively to maximize the use of every tax dollar and the Innovation Loan Fund is doing just that. Utilizing this fund will allow the Department of Finance to expand web based payment options, ultimately supporting our goals to increase efficiency and improve services,” said Amer Ahmad, Comptroller.
The Innovation Loan Fund is managed and directed by the Office of Budget and Management (OBM).
After each application is reviewed by OBM to ensure it meets all of the requirements, they must be approved by an Oversight Committee that includes several members including an Alderman, the City’s Chief Financial Officer, the Chief of Policy and Planning, the Chief Operating Officer, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Innovation Delivery and the Comptroller. In addition to voting on loan requests, the Oversight Committee reviews progress reports provided by OBM.