Ed Shurna for The Huffington Post: Can We Put Our Trust in the Infrastructure Trust

April 17, 2012

By Ed Shurna, Executive Director

Chicago Coalition for the Homeless

The investors in Mayor Emanuel’s proposed Infrastructure Trust will expect a significant return on their investments. The city realizes that in order to provide this return, it will have to charge user fees and not just rely on savings from the infrastructure improvements. This may result in increased fees for summer programs, fees for use of the parks, fees for library use, fees for garbage collection, fees for free concerts in the park.

In the past the city issued bonds to finance infrastructure improvements. Not any more with the new Infrastructure Trust. The Infrastructure Trust may have some merit. It may be a good tool for helping fix needed repairs. The city council should take time to evaluate the trust and build in necessary safeguards.

The city council should practice due diligence in evaluating the pros and cons of this trust. Who will decide if the trust takes on a particular project? Does the city council make that decision or does a five-member trust board decide? How transparent is the decision-making process? Can the city charge fees for everything from parks to toilets to garbage pick up?

There are too many unanswered questions. Let’s make sure this is not another parking meter scandal. Let’s take the time to put in the necessary safeguards.