City of Chicago planning layoffs

September 30, 2008 4:20:28 PM PDT
The City of Chicago will lay off workers. That confirmation came Tuesday from Mayor Daley, who says job reductions will be used to help offset the city's $420 million dollar budget deficit. But exactly where the cuts will take place remains up in the air. The mayor says there's no other way, as he promises not to raise taxes.

Cuts in departments including Streets and Sanitation and even the police department have been mentioned. The mayor says all options remain on the table.

The gloomy national economic picture gave Mayor Daley some cover as he moves closer to making some very difficult and controversial decisions locally. Members of the mayor's budget team reportedly have been in contact with labor leaders, bracing them for big layoffs in city government.

Union leaders say they were told the bad news during private meetings at City Hall: to close a projected $420 million budget deficit, the Daley administration planned to layoff as many as 1,000 city workers.

"People with families, my members, other locals members, and people that aren't represented by unions," said Lou Phillips, Local #1001 business manager.

Hundreds of pink slips would be issued in the Streets and Sanitation department. Add to the 1,000 layoffs another 3,000 vacant city jobs that will not be filled, including 329 sworn officer positions at the Chicago Police Department.

Tuesday, Mayor Daley indicated that job reductions would be his major budget-balancing tool, as he again rejected a tax increase to generate new revenue.

"This is not a good time in America, with this economy, it's getting more challenging, and next year it will be more difficult and more challenging," said Mayor Daley.

Earlier, the mayor attended a service at police headquarters, 3500 S. Michigan, to retire the star of Richard Francis, an officer killed in the line of duty in July while trying to subdue a suspect. Francis was working alone when it happened. His union president said vulnerable, one-officer patrols would be more prevalent if the city cuts the number of patrolman positions.

"I suggest to any member of the administration, including the mayor, he can go into any roll call at midnight and see how many one-man calls are working," said Mark Donahue, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #7.

When asked about fewer cops on the street, the mayor insisted no final decisions had been made. Still, Daley would not rule out police cuts.

"Everything is on the table. We are looking at everything. I'm sorry," said Mayor Daley.

The mayor will make his formal budget message in mid-October. Certainly, by then, we will know how many city jobs, filled and vacant, will be eliminated.

The mayor says he'll make cuts based on a four-year budget projection. He does not want to have to cut again next year as city revenues continue their decline.


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