Mayor Daley reveals more of budget plan

October 19, 2009 4:15:29 PM PDT
Mayor Richard Daley announced some cuts he wants to make to try to balance the city budget.Last week, he began with the good news that he would not call for any new taxes or fees. Monday, he offered the first confirmed bad news for non-union city workers: they'll be asked to take more unpaid time off that will amount to a nearly 10% pay cut.

He wants to cut hundreds of vacant city jobs and is calling for eight more unpaid furlough days. As part of the mayor's budget speech on Wednesday, he will recommend that city workers take off nearly five weeks without pay to help manage the Chicago's worst financial crisis in decades.

"We're all in the same boat. We have to figure out how we row together, both the taxpayer and city employees," Daley said.

The mayor announced that he would ask non-union city workers for even more than this year's sixteen furlough days. During 2010, Daley wants 3,500 workers, including himself, to take off 24 days without pay. It's the only alternative, he says, to more layoffs.

"Once you lay a person off they're not ever coming back to work in government or the private sector. That's the sad thing," Daley said.

The furlough days are part of an administration plan to save $114 million of the city's $550 million projected 2010 budget deficit. It also would cancel non-union pay raises, eliminate 220 vacant positions and consolidate some city services into new departments.

The mayor said he would not discuss until Wednesday a reported plan to tap the city's estimated $600 million "rainy day fund," created when it sold the skyway and the parking meter system.

"We will not have the reserves next year if we dip into them significantly this year. I am not convinced, and the civic federation has not seen any indicators, that say city revenues will bounce back next year," said Lawrence Msall, Chicago Civic Federation.

Last June, two of the city's 40 unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Teamsters, refused furlough days and combined saw 431 of their members laid off.

The mayor could again ask the holdout unions, which still represent over 5,000 workers, for concessions.

He would not say whether police or firefighters would be asked for unpaid time off.

"The other cities are laying off and closing fire stations and laying off firemen and policemen. We see that continuously all over the country," Daley said.

The mayor is unveiling his budget plan in bits and pieces. It won't be clear how it fits together until Wednesday morning.


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