If you’ve been reading my City Council Reports, you know that the City of Chicago faces a severe budgetary crisis not seen in at least 25 years. This crisis is not unique to Chicago, but is being faced by cities and towns across the nation.
Over eighty percent of the city budget is devoted to personnel costs–paying the salary and benefits of city workers. In an effort to cut costs, the vast majority of non-sworn city workers will not be paid for city holidays for the rest of the year. In addition, employees making over $35,000 a year will be required to take six unpaid furlough days. Two unions refused to go along with these measures, and the city laid off over 400 employees from those unions.
These steps, while necessary, will undoubtedly affect the speed with which city services will be delivered. It will take longer to fulfill routine service requests, such as tree trimming, sewer and water main repair, graffiti removal, and the like. In the 49th Ward, I am working closely with my Ward Superintendent, Greg Wagner, to ensure that garbage pick-up and street cleaning will continue to be performed on schedule.
My Ward Service Office employees are also affected by these measures, which will result in a 10 percent pay-cut for them. In an effort to minimize the impact on service delivery in the office, my staff will take three of their unpaid furlough days during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, traditionally a slow time of the year for the Service Office. I very much appreciate their sacrifice. As a result, the office will be closed from Christmas Eve, Thursday, December 24th to Monday, January 4th.
While I’m not legally obligated to do so, I will also take the full complement of unpaid holidays and furlough days–15 days in all–while not reducing my work schedule. I believe it is important that the pain is shared equally by all, especially by those who make these policy decisions. Last year, only three aldermen joined me in taking as many furlough days as other city workers. I hope more join me this year.
If you have any questions about the furlough days or my response to them, please reply to this e-mail or call my office at 773-338-5796.