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Aldermen are already sweating about the 2010 budget process about to heat up at City Hall, because it’s clear they’re going to be forced to raise taxes, fines, and fees, dip into reserve funds, make additional staffing and service cuts, sell off more city assets, or all of the above. Such is the dilemma facing a city half a billion bucks in the hole.

So even though they’ve taken all kinds of hell for hastily approving the parking meter deal, most are glad to have the cash from it, some of which will go toward keeping the city afloat in 2010, as it did this year. “Whether we like the agreement or not, the meters are something of a saving grace for plugging this deficit,” 44th Ward alderman Tom Tunney told me the other day. “I don’t like the idea of using our capital assets to pay for operating deficits, but this is a tough time.”

It’s not hard to imagine Mayor Daley using that same argument to push another privatization deal in the coming months, or the City Council bitching and moaning as it goes along.

That’s why a few aldermen introduced an ordinance today that would try to protect the council from the specter of its own rubber-stamping proclivities.