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Layoffs May Come For Over 70 Waukegan City Employees

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Waukegan Waterfront

(Credit: CBS)

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WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) – More than 70 city employee positions are on the chopping block under a budget proposal in north suburban Waukegan made public on Monday that forecasts the city facing a $8.7 million deficit for the 2011-12 fiscal year, with $108.4 million in expenses running high against $99.7 million in revenue.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bernie Tafoya reports

The positions facing the ax include 15 police officers, 10 firefighters, five custodians, three laborers, three maintenance workers, three fire department lieutenants, two fire department captains, two police lieutenants, two police sergeants and a deputy police chief.

According to documents released Monday, the employee reductions would amount to a savings of $5.1 million in wage and benefit costs. All told, 43 full?time and 30 part?time positions proposed for elimination would bring the city’s total workforce reduction since 2009-10 to 260 employees.

Among the features of the budget proposal, which is available for public review online at http://www.waukeganweb.net/annualbudget.html, or in hard-copy form at both the Waukegan Public Library and the city clerk’s office:

Property taxes available for general corporate purposes are projected to decline by 74 percent, or $6.6 million, to $2.3 million, which the report notes is “based on the levy adopted by the City Council.” In late December, aldermen voted to adopt a zero-growth tax levy that froze property taxes.

Some taxes are forecast to produce more revenue in the coming fiscal year. For example, the special home-rule sales tax enacted in 2002 for such things as downtown and lakefront redevelopment is expected to increase 29 percent, or $1.1 million, to generate a total of $5.2 million. The 1 percent tax on prepared food and package liquors is expected to generate $600,000 in new dollars.

The city’s contribution to the police pension fund is $5.6 million, which is $2.1 million or 59 percent increase over the prior year. The city’s contribution to the fire pension fund is $4.07 million, a $1.5 million or 56 percentincrease over the prior year. The report added that, according to an independent actuary, both funds are “considered to be in relatively poor financial condition.”

One proposed addition to the employee ranks would be that of a coordinator for the Genesee Theatre, who would be paid $67,000. The report states that the facility “has not had the benefit of a direct oversight from one individual on the city staff to ensure the city’s best interests are being met by the theatre’s operations. Therefore, this position will provide the missing link between the city leadership, staff and citizens and the private management of the theatre.”

With the new fiscal year beginning May 1, the city has scheduled two information sessions in advance of the budget’s adoption by the City Council. The meetings are slated on April 9 and April 16, in both cases starting at 10 a.m. in the council chambers, 100 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave.

In Monday’s report, administrative officials stated that “by submitting this document to the public, aldermen and other city stakeholders a month in advance of public hearings, it is the administration’s goal to further the planning process by shaping the city’s goals and objectives in a time of strained resources.”

Mayor Robert Sabonjian told the City Council on Monday night that he’s been told that “people claim we’ve been lying (about) how much money we have … I find it egregious at the very least to find out people are saying these things.”

“I’m hoping that (these) unfair accusations stop,” Sabonjian added. “Since I’ve been in office, we’ve provided more (financial) information, made it easier to understand and put more information on the (Internet) than any other administration before us.”

–Lake County News-Sun, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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