Matteson could lay off police, firefighters due to budget problems

MATTESON, Ill. (WLS) -- Some full-time police and firefighters in Matteson could be let go because of budget problems in the south suburb.

The Village of Matteson sent letters to the police and fire unions this week, according to the village administrator. He says the village is facing budget constraints and hopes to open up negotiations with the police and fire unions.

The police union reports that 13 police officers and 8 firefighters could be cut by mid-February.

"I don't want to say it's a chopping block because we look at the life of these firefighters, police officers, their families, it's very critical to them for their jobs. It's also critical for our residents to know that safety is there when they call, that when they call 911, that they know someone is going to be responding," said Brian Mitchell, Matteson village administrator.

The police union had this response, in part: "The union is disheartened regarding this drastic step as it directly impacts the safety of the residents, members of the business community and officers on the street."

Some business owners, like this family-owned Mexican restaurant, are already worried about the possibility of laying off first responders.

"We need all our firefighters and police officers out here. It's a business. As a business owner, I would be concerned. If I have a 911 call, I want them to be out here as soon as possible to take care of the matter, and look after our safety and everything else," said Ricky Hurtado, Pepe's Restaurant owner.

The village administrator says those unions do have a chance to respond to the letter by Tuesday.

Residents can speak out at a board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday.

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