Four police officers, two community-service officers and three firefighters are among the positions being considered for layoffs to help cut budget deficits in Park Ridge. Also on the possible chopping block are the city’s public information coordinator, director of economic development, zoning-enforcement officer, engineering technician, two finance technicians (one part time), a Public Works maintenance worker, a pump station operator and an administrative assistant in the Public Works Service Center.
City Manager Jim Hock presented proposed cuts along with an elimination of support for some community groups and an increase in taxes and service fees to residents at a budget workshop on Saturday February 27 which was attended by about 100 residents. The budget presented contained $52.7 million in revenues, $52.9 million in expenditures and a deficit of $227,600.00 Hock said the $1 million plus in cuts would actually only save about $700,000.00 because the city would have to pay for unemployment benefits.
Included in the cuts is the decision not to fill six vacant positions within the city, including the deputy chief of police, a purchasing agent and four Public Works workers. Funding for the Center of Concern, Park Ridge Senior Center and meals on Wheels will be cut as well.
Besides all the cuts mentioned there are several increases in the budget proposal. These include the following:
- 5-percent increase in the city’s property tax rate.
- Doubling the sewer fee to what amounts to be about $159.00 per year for a family of four that uses approximately 97,000 gallons of water.
- $3-per-month additional sewer fee per water meter for the purchase of a new special truck for sewer maintenance. An additional $7-per-month fee for flood control projects for the 2011-12 fiscal year.
- Increase in water rates usage above 5,000 gallons per billing cycle.
- 1-cent increase per gallon in the city’s gas tax.
1st Ward Alderman Joe Sweeney objected to any cuts involving police officers and fire fighters saying “I will not vote for any budget with public safety personnel being laid off.”
3rd Ward Alderman Don Bach agreed saying that “this is not the right way to reorganize. You don’t do it from the bottom up; you do it from the top down.”
Mayor Dave Schmidt said “it is too early to make snap judgements” about cutting the Police, Fire and Public Works departments. The mayor did say that if the aldermen oppose the cuts they will need to find a way to make the needed budget cuts.