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Daley Puts Pay, City Services on the Chopping Block

By Kevin Robinson in News on Oct 20, 2009 2:00PM

2009_10_mayor_daley_stop_smiling.jpg Sticking to his vow not to increase taxes to close next year's budget deficit, Mayor Daley announced on Monday a portion of his plan to save millions of dollars in city spending next year. That includes 24 furlough days for city non-union workers (that's five weeks off, the equivalent of a 10 percent pay cut), no cost of living increases and three reduced service days. “The economic recession that has plagued our nation for well over a year continues to affect most of Chicago working families,” Daley said at a City Hall news conference. “I understand that times are still tough for people and I don’t feel right asking them to pay for more city government right now,” he said.

Noting that income tax revenues are expected to fall by an additional $55 million below 2009 levels, real estate transaction tax revenues are projected to drop an additional $2 million from the record-low 2009 levels, and sales taxes are projected to drop an additional $25 million below 2009 levels, the mayor said that, “In Chicago, we haven’t eliminated any service — instead we’ve tried to do more with less and provide services more efficiently."

Daley also said that he hopes the belt tightening won't lead to more layoffs. Earlier this year, he got forty unions that represent city workers to agree to a two-year agreement that eliminated paid city holidays, overtime pay and imposed 24 furlough days. Whether he can get those unions to agree to more cuts remains to be seen. The cuts, along with the consolidation of some city functions and the elimination of 220 vacant jobs are expected to save the city just over $100 million. The mayor said he wouldn't discuss plans to tap into Chicago's $600 million rainy day fund until tomorrow, when he presents his full budget to the City Council. That fund was created with proceeds from the city's lease of the Skyway and the parking meter system. "We will not have the reserves next year if we dip into them significantly this year. I am not convinced, and the civic federation has not seen any indicators, that say city revenues will bounce back next year," Civic Federation President Lawrence Msall told ABC7.