Excerpts from an ACB7Chicago.com article about the Village of Matteson:

The police union reports that 13 police officers and 8 firefighters could be cut by mid-February.

“I don’t want to say it’s a chopping block because we look at the life of these firefighters, police officers, their families, it’s very critical to them for their jobs. It’s also critical for our residents to know that safety is there when they call, that when they call 911, that they know someone is going to be responding,” said Brian Mitchell, Matteson village administrator.

The police union had this response, in part: “The union is disheartened regarding this drastic step as it directly impacts the safety of the residents, members of the business community and officers on the street.” The village administrator says those unions do have a chance to respond to the letter by Tuesday.

Residents can speak out at a board meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Excerpts from the SouthtownStar.com from Friday:

An $8 million budget deficit in Matteson has led village officials to impose layoffs of police and firefighters, village administrator Brian Mitchell said Friday. The village intends to eliminate eight firefighters/paramedic positions to save $1.5 million and remove 13 police officers to save $1.2 million. Mitchell said the proposed layoffs were mindful of the need for safety in the community, stressing that the “goal is to make sure the community is still safe and secure.”

The layoffs would cut about half of the town’s 28-person police patrol, said Ray Violetto, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police representative for the Matteson officers. Violetto said he understands that the village has a deficit but it doesn’t make sense that firefighters and police officers are the only ones losing their jobs. “I’ve only seen cuts in emergency response personnel, but I don’t know of cuts in public works, administration or other departments,” he said.

The fire department would lose a quarter of its 32 union members, according to Scott Gilliam, president of the Associated Firefighters of Matteson. Gilliam insisted that Matteson “cannot possibly operate” with eight fewer firefighters, which would create a “severe threat to the safety and lives of both the firefighters and the citizens of this community.” “There’s no way we can operate below what we’re doing now,” he said, noting that the firefighters’ contract with the village requires a minimum of eight firefighters to be on duty per day.  Forcing the remaining firefighters to maintain that daily minimum would require them to work “a lot of overtime” past their 60-hour work week, putting everyone’s health and safety at risk, Gilliam said.

The village administration sent letters to the police and fire unions, informing them of and asking for a response by Tuesday, Mitchell said, citing collective bargaining agreements that give the unions the “ability for critical input.”

Mitchell said several residents have called the village hall, asking to discuss the layoff issue at the meeting. He said the layoffs are not on the agenda because the village administration first wants to get the unions’ official response to the plan, but residents can comment and ask questions as usual.

thanks Dan