Daley orders city departments to reduce spending

February 12, 2010 4:34:28 AM PST
Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has ordered all city departments that do not deal with the public to cut an additional 6 percent from their budgets. It's the mayor's latest move to fight the city's growing budget deficit.

The new cuts will not include layoffs, but many departments will now have to dig deeper to shave more money.

The problem is, less than two months into the already Spartan 2010 budget year, the City of Chicago is still spending more money than it is collecting in taxes and fees. Mayor Daley, trying to avoid another huge deficit near the end of the year, is acting now to cut spending without affecting essential services.

"We know that we continue to face large deficits and the next few years as the economy slowly, slowly recovers," said Mayor Daley.

The mayor was unable to pinpoint or even suggest what cuts might be necessary to amount to the 6 percent spending reductions he has ordered. He says no more city jobs are on the line, but the current hiring freeze will be enforced-- to be broken only in the case of public safety or those critical to the collection of revenue for the city.

"What can that individual produce in regards to generating revenue? What can we save? I think it's very important, because it is restructuring, this whole recession. This whole recession is a restructuring of everything that we have. The old playbook doesn't work anymore," Mayor Daley said.

At this point it is unclear how the new spending reductions might affect more city festivals. Venetian Night and the July 3rd fireworks have already been cut or scaled back. Other fun events, especially those partially sponsored by the city focused on neighborhoods, could also be on the bubble.

Most city agencies are likely to trim budgets by cutting supplies, consultants, contract services and travel.

The mayor said Thursday, the police department will attempt to put even more desk officers on the street, but he appeared to rule out any plan to streamline the department by closing some of the 25 district stations which he says have already proven their value.

"We have found out new police facilities become part of the community. There is not that wall of separation between the community and the police department," said Mayor Daley.

Also Thursday, the mayor said he has already told his department heads to freeze spending for 2011 at 2010 levels unless there are compelling or contractual reasons for increases.

It appears the mayor is doing everything in his power now to avoid a budget crisis next winter only months before the 2011 city election.