CHICAGO - Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that the crackdown on scofflaws will return $8.5 million to Chicago taxpayers, which will be used to fund nearly 20,000 additional youth opportunities this summer and 50 new cadet slots in the June 2012 police academy class. The funds are the result of state legislation and an ordinance passed by City Council in February that allows the city to collect outstanding debt from Illinois residents by deducting it from the state income tax returns of scofflaws who have received multiple collection notifications. More than half of the funds have come from individuals living outside Chicago.
“By ensuring that those who break the law are held accountable, the taxpayers of Chicago are reaping an $8.5 million dividend that we are reinvesting in keeping our kids safe. Every dollar of debt collected this tax season will help us provide additional resources for youth in parks, jobs, and internship programs, as well as additional public safety resources,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This reform bonus will help keep Chicago's children safe this summer by creating nearly 20,000 additional job opportunities, summer program options, as well as put 50 additional police officers in the academy this summer.”
The Chicago City Council approved the use of the new tool effective immediately on February 15, 2012.
In the just over two weeks since the ordinance was approved, the City has collected $5.2 million in outstanding debt from Illinois residents. The City expects to collect an additional $3.3 million in outstanding debt using this new tool during the remainder of the 2012 tax season. Of the more than 28,000 scofflaws that will have their income tax returns deducted for debt they owe, 55 percent of them - 15,671 - are not Chicago residents.
The $8.5 million in additional funds will be distributed in the following way:
"The city of Chicago has shown that you can make government more efficient and effective by applying a little common sense,” State Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka said.
“Since day one of this administration, we have pledged to improve the way the City collects its debt so that the honest Chicago taxpayers who play by the rules aren’t left holding the bag,” said City Comptroller Amer Ahmad. “Through more efficient and innovative approaches we have already seen significant success, including over $4 million in debt collected from banks who owed the City more than $5 million when Mayor Emanuel took office. We will continue to aggressively collect debt and encourage those who owe debt to sign up to get on a payment plan.”
The 50 new cadet slots and 20,000 new youth opportunities created by the $8.5 million in funds include:
$2 million for Police Academy: 50 New Cadet Slots
The 2012 budget planned for a class of 50 police cadets to enter the academy in the spring/summer, and another class in the fall. The funds will enable the City to add 50 cadets to first class planned for early June, doubling the class size to 100.
$2.5 million for Park District Summer Programs: 14,800 youth opportunities
Demand remains high for summer Park District programs, and the City will provide $2.5 million to increase slots for some of the highest-demand youth programs, including summer day camp, youth soccer, digital audio and video artwork programs, and Junior Bear youth football. A new Parks program will receive $500,000 aimed specifically at reducing violence during high-crime periods by offering alternative activities during certain weekends in the summer in targeted zones, including extended facility hours for sport, cultural, and family-focused programming. Summer day camp, which is one of the Park District’s most popular programs, will receive an additional $1 million to allow 8,800 more children to participate this summer. $575,000 for youth soccer will provide slots for more than 2,100 kids over a three-year period or about 700 youth per year, doubling the current program each year. The digital audio and video program will be nearly doubled, and football slots are increased by 25 percent.
$2 million for City’s Summer Youth Employment Program: 2,900 youth opportunities
The City’s Summer Youth Employment Program provides youth participants ages 16 to 24 with opportunities to receive coaching and mentoring, gain career exposure and develop employability skills through real-world work experience during the summer. An additional $2 million will more than double the program, which currently serves 2,400 youth.
$2 million for After School Matters apprentice and internship program: 2,000 youth opportunities
After School Matters provides summer apprentice, career readiness, and internship opportunities for youth, including a new pilot partnership with a local industrial council, which matches graduating high school seniors with local business mentors to provide them industrial business skills. An additional 2,000 youth will increase the ASM summer programs by 50 percent.
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