Waukegan considers cutting services amid budget deficit

April 18, 2011 9:02:51 PM PDT
Budget cuts could translate into dozens of layoffs in far north suburban Waukegan.

The suburb is facing about a $9 million budget deficit. Like many communities suffering budget crises in the current economy, city leaders are looking at cutting services.

Among the 70 city jobs Mayor Robert Sabonjian has proposed cutting are more than a dozen firefighter positions and 15 police officers. The City Council opted Monday night to delay a vote on the mayor's budget proposal.

Union officials say the layoffs would have an impact on public safety and leave emergency personnel levels below national standards.

"To go a little bit lower and to spread that manpower out thinner would be unsafe for the civilians and for us," said Mike Scholle, firefighter, Local 479.

"Morale is at an all-time low. Officers know there will be people out there without jobs. These are men and women who have families," said Rolando Villafuerte, police union president.

"If we go through with these layoffs, these gentlemen and ladies, where is that going to leave our safety? Are you guys telling us that we need to arm ourselves to protect our family and our property?" resident Perry Foster asked during a hearing Monday night.

The layoff notices take effect on May 14. In the meantime, Mayor Robert Sabonjian says he is so frustrated with the budget debate that when his term expires, he will not run for re-election.