Mayor says Sauk Village is out of money

August 25, 2010 (SAUK VILLAGE, Ill.)

The village board voted Tuesday night to cut costs by eliminating nine employees. While that may not sound like a lot, it is a lot in a suburb with only 10,000 residents.

Sauk Village sits off of Illinois Route 394, surrounded by cornfields and subdivisions with ranch homes. Like so many municipalities, big and small, this village is broke.

So, to cut costs, nine union employees will lose their jobs, including three from water and three from sewer, which is half of the public works department.

"This is unsafe. That's the reason they marked a tree to cut it down. So if they don't have these people to cut these trees out, cars are going to get smashed, people are going to get hurt," said Carmello Gonzalez, resident.

Public works layoffs will mean big cuts in city services. Residents must learn patience if they want dead trees removed, water main breaks repaired and snow cleared.

With fall coming, the village's leaf-collection program is likely to be abolished.

"It's going to be a test this winter," said Phillip Alvarez, resident.

The layoffs are expected to save the village more than $600,000, but more needs to be cut.

The village is hoping to reduce healthcare insurance for its union employees. Currently, the village pays 100 percent, something some residents say they don't mind paying for.

"Everyone needs to have their health benefits. Like I say, God bless them for having it. As far as expenses, hopefully it just comes down to dollars per resident as opposed to tens of dollars per resident," said Alvarez.

Many residents question how the village spends its money. Gonzalez says he has paid hundreds of dollars in village fines for code violations.

"And they want me to fix my fence, they want me to clean my yard, pick up debris. They wanted screens in my windows. They wanted a whole bunch of stuff done to the house. I'm in compliance with it. I paid the money. Where is it going?" Gonzalez said.

The administration says it will conduct an audit of the village finances.

The mayor and the village trustees were not available to talk Wednesday. ABC 7 tried talking to the director of public works: He did not want to go on camera because, he says, the last time he talked to a reporter his job was threatened.

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