Alderman proposes charging admission to Taste of Chicago, Blues, and Jazz festivals

Alderman proposes charging admission to Taste of Chicago, Blues, and Jazz festivals

Chicago alderman suggests admission charge to sponsored festivals as way to raise revenue.

One first-term alderman is suggesting a new way to raise revenue: slapping entry fees to some of the city’s biggest events.

The alderman in question is newcomer Ray Lopez, 15th Ward, who thinks charging admission for privately sponsored events could be used to help bolster public art and other cultural festivals around Chicago.

“If sponsorship gets us zero so we have a net gain of nothing, then maybe it’s time to start looking at admission to Taste of Chicago, admission to Blues, Jazz and all of the other festivals that we do that are big draws for tourists so we can re-distribute that money back into our neighborhoods,” Lopez told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Lopez’s idea to charge admission to the city’s festivals is just Chicago and Cook County lawmakers’ latest scheme to nickel and dime residents to make up for growing financial woes.

The Windy City is staring down the barrel of a $34 billion pension crisis and increased costs coming to taxpayers, thanks to the Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU’s, latest contract. With a city government strapped for cash despite increases in water taxes and property taxes, government officials are desperate for money. Cook County and Chicago officials are even considering slapping taxes on soft drinks and plastic bags.

With no true reform insight, it is little surprise that aldermen like Lopez are considering going back to the residents of Chicago, hat in hand, to ask for more money.

Lopez’s proposal is unfair to attendees, performers and sponsors of the events who all enjoy the opportunity to come and experience Chicago culture. If city officials like Lopez truly cared about funding for art and festivals, they should consider reducing costs for some of the city’s biggest expenditures, instead of acting as little more than a rubber stamp for CTU and the mayor’s demands. Real pension reform, consolidation of redundant and costly units of government and reducing overly generous salaries for public sector employees are just a few measures that would ensure the city and county would have more than enough revenue to fund public arts projects and events that celebrate the culture, talent and heritage of Chicagoans.

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