Mayor’s budget proposal includes layoffs, fee hikes

If Mayor Richard M. Daley’s proposed 2009 city budget is passed by the City Council, 929 employees will lose their jobs, promising delays in garbage pickup and snow removal while taxpayers will pay more to attend sporting events and to park their ca

If Mayor Richard M. Daley’s proposed 2009 city budget is passed by the City Council, 929 employees will lose their jobs, promising delays in garbage pickup and snow removal while taxpayers will pay more to attend sporting events and to park their cars in garages.

Daley met with the Chicago Defender last week to explain in detail his $3.1 billion proposed budget.

“Budgets represent change, and not everyone necessarily likes changes so I expect some people not to agree with what we have proposed,” Mayor Daley told the Defender. “This is a responsible budget that balances the need to substantially cut spending with our commitment to minimize the impact of these cuts on working families.”

Among the challenges, the mayor said he faced, were layoffs. He is proposing layoffs as a way to close a $469 million budget gap. And while the job losses would come from several departments, the Department of Streets and Sanitation, the city’s third largest department and is comprised mostly of Blacks and Hispanics, will be hit the hardest with 307 layoffs.

“I don’t want to layoff employees and cause pain and suffering in their families. But because the economy continues to worsen and the cost of government continues to increase, we are forced to make these difficult and tough choices,” he said.

Daley also noted that on any given day, 30 percent of the workers in that department are not on the job, a figure he said is matched by the fire department and police department. He told the Defender that those three departments make up 75 percent of the budget.

The budget does not call for any reduction in the police force, though civilian workers for the department would be let go, with uniformed officers taking on those administrative duties.

Daley also defended cost of living increases for some salaried workers, including his internal staff, while laying off other city workers.

“I will pay my people,” Daley said, noting that his top deputies could command much higher salaries in the private sector. “You have to pay for good managers,” the mayor said.

The next phase of the budget process is a series of City Council hearings to determine if the budget will be approved or if changes are needed before it goes into effect Jan. 1, 2009.

Among the services performed by the Streets and Sanitation department is snow removal and garbage pickup.

Lou Phillips, business manager for Laborers’ Union, Local 1001, that represents Streets and Sanitation employees, was unavailable for comment by press time.

Alderman Ed Smith (28th) said he has concerns about the trash pickup.

“We (the community) want garbage picked up in a timely fashion,” Smith said. “That’s a major concern I have about the layoffs.”

The budget also calls for no garbage pickup the day after Thanksgiving as part of a three-day furlough the mayor has proposed to save $19.8 million over two years.

The other two furlough days would be the days after Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when most city employees call off, according to Daley. In the event of an emergency such as a snow storm, employees would be called in to work, he added.

Other highlights from the budget include:

• Raise amusement tax to 5 percent on live theatrical, musical and cultural performances in venues seating more than 750 seats and 9 percent for sporting events, concerts and movies

• Increase parking tax–from $2.25 per car to $3–on motorists who pay more than $12 to park

• Drop the Denver boot threshold to 2 parking ticket violations from 3

• Raise residential permit parking guest passes from $10 to $20 for a book of 30

• Raises ambulance fees from $325 and $8 per mile to $600 and $13 per mile

Copyright 2008 Chicago Defender. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Comments

From the Web