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Chicago Residents: Brace For Higher Fees, Fines

CHICAGO (CBS) --- Aldermen on Tuesday got a sneak peek into how Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to close a $340 million deficit in his 2014 budget.

The solution: Residents need to brace themselves for more fees and fines.

However, some aldermen told CBS 2's Derrick Blakley that one planned sin tax may take things too far.

Emanuel still hasn't revealed all his budget balancing moves, but vowed there will be no increases in property, sales or gasoline taxes.

But, according to budget briefings to aldermen, Emanuel wants to increase a lot of fees and fines.

"The public is hollering about services," said Ald. Ray Suarez. "The public is hollering about safety issues in the neighborhoods. So if we do all those things, we gotta raise dollars to pay for all this."

To help fill that budget shortfall, the administration plans to hike parking fines and storage fees for towed cars, which it says would bring in $10 million.

Higher amusement taxes on cable TV bills, would add $9 million.

And the big one: Tickets issued by the city's speed cameras and red light cameras would rake in a whopping $60 million each.

"Personally, I think the speed cam revenue is going to produce significantly more than that, but we'll know for sure in a year," said Ald. Brendan Reilly.

Other fees for big developers, hikes in the real estate transfer tax and an 75-cent-a-pack boost for cigarettes would bring that total revenue take to about $280 million.

Surprisingly, it seems it's the cigarette tax that's burning up aldermen the most.

They believe the high taxes lead to illegal sales.

"It's lucrative for someone to go out of state, buy cigarettes, and then come back, disassemble the boxes and sell the them in a single item type of thing," said Ald George Cardenas.

Ald. Jason Ervin, said: "You can literally make more selling a pack of cigarettes than you can off a bag of dope, and that's a problem."

Emanuel defends the cigarette tax hike, saying much of the proceeds will go to provide vision tests and glasses for needy Chicago kids.

But some aldermen worry that more smokers will flee to the suburbs to buy their cigarettes, and other items, too.

The mayor releases the budget tomorrow.

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