Excerpts from the OakLawnleaf.com:

Oak Lawn’s First 2017 Budget Proposal Cuts Fire Department

Oak Lawn’s Board of Trustees held their first budget meeting October 25th for the 2017 village budget. Official documents show a reduction in Fire Department payroll.

According to the proposed budget for 2017, Oak Lawn Fire Department’s personnel salaries would be cut by $239,218. This comes a year after cutting a projected $397,594 from OLFD salaries.

These cuts would be made by not replacing personnel who have left the fire department. Since 2012, the fire department staffing level has been cut by 10%. Village Manager Larry Deetjen has had a long-standing policy of not replacing fire department personnel lost through attrition. Under Deetjen’s direction, the village has also pursued litigation against fire department personnel in order to force them off the payroll.

The village budget includes $2,000,000 for fire department overtime. The same amount was budgeted for 2016, but had already been nearly exhausted with 3 full months left in the year. The fire department overtime expense is projected to overrun its budget by $465,518 this year. The overtime has become a necessity, as under-staffing the fire department forces the village to pay firefighters overtime to cover minimum staffing levels.

As the Leaf has previously reported, this is a strategy that does not make good fiscal sense.

In a Chicago Tribune Daily Southtown article, published July 22nd, it is stated, “According to an analysis performed by Oak Lawn’s finance director, the gross lifetime cost of hiring a firefighter at age 22 who goes on to work for 30 years, retires and lives another 30 years post-retirement is approximately $7.5 million.”

Interestingly, using the $7.5 million figure cited by village officials, the cost of a firefighter actually comes out to about 50¢ per month per household. That’s less than 2¢ a day. Instead of paying $3 million in overtime, the village could use that money to hire two dozen more firefighters, virtually eliminating overtime while safely and efficiently staffing its fire engines.

With staffing levels projected to be slashed further, overtime will become even more necessary. Budgeting staffing level cuts has not proven to reduce total expenditures. Will the board of trustees learn from its past failures?

thanks Dan