University Park village employees get pink slips

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030116-wls-univpk430-vid (WLS)

A south suburban village is dealing with a budget crisis that forces leaders to make deep cuts, including laying off one quarter of the police department.

University Park is $22 million in debt and is described as a government in chaos.

With seven years of memories top of mind, Greg Murray walks through the barn and says his goodbyes to the animals at Reigel Farm, one of 23 people who received pink slips from the village.

"Basically a state of shock, we kind of felt something was wrong with the village, but you didn't want to believe it," Murray said.

The layoffs, happening in every department of the village, including the police department, which slashing its manpower by 7 officers.

"The layoffs is not going to compromise safety or any life safety services for the residents. All our shifts are running above minimum staffing at this time," said Chief John Pate, University Park police.

"There are budgetary problems that have been going on for years. It is just now that we have reached the stand that we can't continue this way anymore," said Johnna Townsend, acting village manager.

"I don't want to point any fingers. I am just trying to get it right. There is no time for that," said Mayor Vivian Covington.

Mary Truss is leading the charge with a group of residents for course correction at village hall.

"We're here to make the village whole again and see what we can do. We love our village," she said.

At Reigel Farm, the animals are being moved to a temporary shelter to save money, and Murray is plotting his next move.

"I have somethings lined up. I have been networking. One great thing about the job, you can network, hopefully something will come about," he said.

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