Late this afternoon (a trick perfected by many politicians who want to avoid much notice by the news media, city manager Allen Gill sent out a supplemental budget message to the mayor and city council members regarding the budget shortfall, outlining cuts in the General Fund budget and increases in pension costs.
The Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund will raise the required employer contribution rate form 9.39% to 13.48%. This means the city will have to pay an additional $208,000 to cover all city employee pensions besides police and fire departments. The new rate goes into effect Jan. 1 2010, but the IMRF wants cities to put the new rate into effect as soon as possible to avoid future rate increases. City staff agrees.
Projected sales tax revenues will run about $141,000 less for the coming year.
In order to balance the GF budget, the city staff proposes the following 5 measures. If all 5 are implemented, the General Fund would be balanced:
1. Eliminate 2 Street Dept. maintenance positions, specifically the second street sweeper position and an additional maintenance positon. The two emplyees with the least sniority will be eliminated and given the opportunity to transfer to vacant positions in Refuse and Recycling. This means street sweeping will be done only on special occasions and will limit the number of work crews available for maintenace operations. Total savings: $99,595.
2. Eliminate 1 fire fighter position. Currently, the fire department operates with 3 shifts, 2 with nine menbers and one with 10. The extra position will be eliminated with a retirement scheduled for May. Total savings $77,765.
3. Eliminate part tme law clerk. The person assistes the legal department with research and other legal work. Workload will shift to other staff. Total savings $14,690.
4. Eliminate Building and Neighborhood Service Manager position (this is the one causing all the sqawking). Reports to the Director of Development Services and supervises the Neighborhood Inspectors (Six person team plus supervisor), Building Inspector and Rehabilitation Specialist. Elimination of the position means BNS staff reports directly to the Director of Development Services and the Building Inspector will be called upon more often to run on structural-relasted code concerns. Clerical staff will be relied upon more to handle walk-in service requests, as a code office will be in th eoffice less often. Total savings $87,255.
5. 4-day winter furlough for non-essential employees, December 28-31, 2009. Minimally staff City Hall. More details released later but tentative plans are to keep open only the Revenue Office and certain Finance Department functions, as well as police, fire, water, rewer and refuse departments. Projected savings approximately $70,000.
Total savings to the General Fund if all five of these recommendations is approximately $350,225. The new General Fund Total Expenditures for Fiscal Yeal 2010 would be $19,531,839, leaving the budget in balance.