Daley Postpones Budget
By Kevin Robinson in News on Jul 31, 2008 3:15PM
In a sign of how bad the city's budget deficit might be, Mayor Daley announced yesterday that he was delaying the first formal step in proposing the city budget for 2009. By executive order, the budget forecast must be issued by July 31. Daley expects it to be delayed as late as September 30. “To act responsibly, we need to have the latest revenue data in order to craft a responsible budget for next year,” the mayor said in a statement Wednesday. “Every city and state is experiencing a slowdown in their economies and their revenues because of the nation’s economic recession. Unfortunately, things are predicted to get worse before they get better.” Some aldermen were upset by the delay. "This isn’t like a great shock. Everyone knew last year that the housing market had tanked. Everyone knew that the economy was going south. This shouldn’t be a surprise, really," 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore told the Sun-Times. "I’m a little bit concerned that, last year, we were told we had to take the bitter pill and, if we [did], everything would be fine for the next several years. It would be nice to have a real honest assessment of our economic situation."
In an effort to close a projected $400 million gap, the mayor is putting the kibosh on pay raises, and is offering buyouts to non-union city workers who accept resignation between August 15 and 31. Those moves are expected to turn up the heat on union leaders to work with the administration to cut costs. "That is a good first step to really show what the non-union side is doing to help resolve this situation we’re in. That is possibly some of the things we are discussing," said Budget Director Bennett Johnson. "But, we are looking at even other things and what they bring to us. This is a cooperative situation. If they have good ideas, we want to hear them so we can work together." When asked if rank-and-file police officers, who have been working without a contract would accept a pay cut or unpaid days off, Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue said "If the city can convince my members of the dire necessity of such a move, the membership would be willing to listen...They’d be willing to consider anything the city can convince them is necessary."
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