(The Center Square) – Chicago's nickname of the Second City has a new meaning as it comes in second to last in a new independent financial report.
The report was done by Truth In Accounting and highlights how big cities in the United States perform financially. Chicago finished 74 out of 75 on the TIA list.
According to TIA numbers, Chicago has nearly $11 billion of assets available to pay bills totaling $48.8 billion, creating a $38.2 billion debt liability, which is about $42,000 per resident.
"We found that the city continues to sink further into debt," TIA founder Sheila Weinberg told The Center Square. "The largest thing we found was the risk that most of the cities are putting on their taxpayers."
Weinberg said the risk comes from Chicago pension system funds being tied to the stock market.
"It is all of the risk to the taxpayers," Weinberg said. "If the market goes bad, then the taxpayers are going to be on the hook for paying for these benefits."
Chicago holds nearly $34 billion in unfunded pension liabilities for public safety workers such as police officers, firefighters and other city positions.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot spoke at the City Club of Chicago this month and discussed what she characterized as the city's strides in devoting tax dollars to pay down its pension debt. Lightfoot said the city had paid $1.3 billion to the pension system during her four years as mayor.
"We believe in ourselves, and more importantly, we believe in Chicago, and we are proving it," Lightfoot said. "We have paid down our debts for pension by $1.3 billion in the last four years."
Chicago could elect a new mayor in the coming weeks. Weinberg said no matter who is elected, city officials need to be honest with residents about their financial status.
"They need to focus on telling the public the truth about their balanced budget, that they do not balance their budgets, they do not properly fund their pension plans," Weinberg said. "They are just putting the city taxpayers further and further into debt."
The Chicago primary election will be held on Feb 28.