Citizens speak; alderman to improve Rogers Park rail stations with city funds

Citizens in Rogers Park's 49th Ward voted last week to spend money designated for ward improvements on Red Line CTA platform upgrades.

I wrote last week about the "participatory budgeting" process that 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore sponsored to let citizens decide how to spend $1.3 million that each ward is allocated for infrastructure projects.

Providing additional benches and heat shelters on L platforms at Loyola, Morse and Jarvis got 487 out of 1,652 votes cast by ward citizens last Saturday.

Of course, the CTA is very happy to work with aldermen to let the city pay for these improvements. But as Aldeman Moore told me:

"I can cover only modest amenities, such as benches and shelters, with my "menu" money. The $1.3 million I receive every year to spend at my discretion is no substitute for the tens of millions, indeed, hundreds of millions of dollars of unmet capital needs on the CTA that only the state or federal government can provide."

Hear, hear!

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  • I don't care about improving the stations!
    It's nothing but one long slow zone from Lawrence north to Howard & there's no end to that in sight.
    The trains are moving at 10 mph from Loyola to Granville.
    They need to use the clout that Illinois has with both the president & Secretary of Transportation being from here & get the money to replace all the collapsing viaducts!
    And I don't care what anyone else says, a 30 shutdown of service to demolish & replace all the crumbling 1920s concrete viaducts [27 if I counted correctly, Ashland/Sherwin & Pratt are steel] would be far preferable to 3-4 years of reconstruction & the massive delays that will cause.

  • MK: Sales tax revenue goes straight to the state operating fund, not the capital fund.

    But hey, nice try.

  • Though I'm sure the vast majority of readers of this blog have moved on to other topics, I can't allow the Wal-Mart apologist's arguments to remain unchallenged. First, even if you accept his/her argument that sales tax revenue is used indirectly to fund the CTA's capital budget, this revenue is derived from a county sales tax, not a city tax. Thus all those folks who are supposedly fleeing to the suburbs to make their purchases at Wal-Mart are still helping to fund the CTA.

    Second, from a regional perspective, construction of a new Wal-Mart, or any other new retailer for that matter, is revenue neutral. Studies have shown that construction of new retail stores generate little if any new consumer spending and hence little if any additional sales tax revenue. Consumers simply shift their spending from one store to the other.

    In fact, even looking at it from the City of Chicago's perspective only, the west side Wal-Mart has produced only a very small gain in Chicago's overall sales tax base. Most of the customers at that Wal-Mart had previously spent their consumer dollars at other Chicago stores, not the suburbs.

    Once thing that would generate more consumer spending, and hence more tax revenue, is if giant retailers, such as Wal-Mart, paid their workers a decent wage. Additional dollars in low-wage earners' pockets are much more likely to be spent in the local economy on consumer goods, such as a new appliances or shoes for their kids. That additional spending will have a ripple effect throughout the entire local and regional economy, generating more tax revenue. Henry Ford realized this long ago; if he paid his workers a decent wage, they would buy his product. Too bad Wal-Mart and their apologists haven't figured that out.

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