Posts Tagged Matteson looking at layoffs

Matteson votes against police and fire layoffs

Excerpts from the Chicago SunTimes:

Facing strong public opposition to sharp cuts in its police and fire departments, trustees in south suburban Matteson voted 4-2 Monday night against the downsizing.

Village President Andre B. Ashmore said he spoke out against the layoffs because he was “concerned for the community and public safety . . . making sure it’s well-protected.” “We’re not going to be able to cut our way out of this. We’re going to have to look for alternative sources of revenue,” Ashmore said. One possibility, he said, would be “selling a major asset, like the water system.”

With a looming budget deficit of nearly $8 million, the village had been considering trimming 13 police officers and eight firefighters — about 40 percent of the police department and a third of the fire department.

Veloid Cotton Sr., was one of the two trustees who backed layoffs, saying he saw nowhere else to cut back. “I haven’t seen anything to make up the difference,” he said Monday night. “Come 2017, we’re not going to be able to pay the bills.”

Starting in 2017, Matteson is facing a tab for bond payments on a community center voters had rejected twice in advisory referendums. Village officials built it anyway, going into debt on the $25 million facility that opened in 2010.

A few days before Monday night’s packed meeting at village hall, the chief of the fire union lambasted municipal fiscal decisions. “They mortgaged the safety of the community for a community center,” firefighter Scott Gilliam told the Better Government Association.

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Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from the Chicago, from the Better Government Association:

Facing a budget deficit next year of nearly $8 million, the village of Matteson is considering sharp cuts in its public safety work force, with possible layoffs of 13 police officers and eight firefighters — about 40 percent of the police department and a third of the fire department.

Officials in the south suburb say they’re trying to get their finances in order after years of declining tax revenues. But Matteson leaders haven’t been so diligent in recent years regarding village finances. Consider:

• In January — around the same time officials floated the possibility of the public-safety cuts — the village hired John Dancy, Village Trustee Bridget Dancy’s husband, for a $43,900-a-year public works job. Bridget Dancy, who makes $158,500 a year working for Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, says she had “absolutely nothing” to do with her husband getting the job. And she said, “if there’s going to be layoffs it’s going to be across the board.”

Two other Matteson trustees — Sam Brown and Paula Farr — also have family members on the village payroll. Brown, who has a job with the Cook County Board of Review making $62,375 a year, has a son making $36,235 working for the Matteson recreation department. Farr’s husband and son work in the public works department, where they make $62,910 and $50,997.

• In June, Matteson officials leased a 2014 Chevrolet Traverse sport-utility vehicle for Village President Andre Ashmore, despite the tough financial straits and even though his job is part-time and there is a full-time administrator overseeing the suburban government’s day-to-day operations. The vehicle is projected to cost taxpayers more than $21,000 over the span of its 39-month lease, records show.

Ashmore — who recently left his $110,000-a-year state government job with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity — says other village employees can use his vehicle “any time there’s an emergency.”

• In 2010, shortly after Matteson laid off about 20 employees, the elected village board voted to give itself raises. Pay for village trustees went up from $8,000 a year to $15,000, while the village president’s salary nearly doubled, rising from $15,500 a year to $30,000. At the time, Ashmore argued there hadn’t been a raise in years and the elected officials’ pay amounts to just a pittance considering the number of hours they put in, saying, “It doesn’t add up to minimum wage.”

Still, the salaries appear high compared with other suburbs. In Park Forest, for example, the mayor gets $7,550, and board members get $5,100. In Oak Park, village board members get roughly $7,200 a year, and the village president gets about $10,800. In River Forest, the village president and board members don’t receive any compensation.

Matteson — a predominantly black, largely middle-class community, population about 19,000, located on the border of Cook and Will counties — is in talks with the unions representing police and fire department employees about salary concessions. Village officials say they also might make other cuts.

A key factor in Matteson’s financial troubles is the looming tab for bond payments starting in 2017 for a community center that voters twice rejected in advisory referendums. Village officials built it anyway, going into debt on the $25 million facility that opened in 2010.

Village officials say the community center is making money, that it keeps kids off the streets and boosts tax revenues by bringing people in from outside Matteson for events such as basketball tournaments.

Scott Gilliam, a Matteson firefighter who’s president of the fire union, sees it as a prime reason there’s talk of layoffs.

“They’re just foolish with the money,” Gilliam says. “The community center is the reason for them jeopardizing public safety. They mortgaged the safety of the community for a community center.”

thanks Dan

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Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from

A town meeting in south suburban Matteson was packed with people upset over a plan that would mean deep cuts to the police and fire departments.

Matteson is faced with an $8 million budget deficit. The village board meeting was standing-room only Wednesday night, as leaders discussed laying off 13 police officers – nearly half the force – and eight firefighters. They are also considering leaving four positions in the fire department vacant.

The cuts could take place as soon as next week. Matteson residents are worried about the impact on public safety.

“It’s detrimental, I think, to the community at large. We’re talking increased response times, less personnel at the scene of a fire,” said Scott Gilliam, president of the Matteson firefighters union.

Village officials and the police and fire unions plan to begin talks over the proposed layoffs.

thanks Dan

Previous posts are HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from a Southtown Star article on the possible layoffs coming to Matteson:

The police and firefighter unions in Matteson officially have responded to the village administration’s request to negotiate over recently announced plans to lay off half of the police force and a quarter of the firefighter-paramedics by Feb. 20.

The unions’ contracts with the village give them the “ability for critical input,” village administrator Brian Mitchell said last week in citing Matteson’s $8 million budget deficit as the reason for the proposed layoffs. He said the village plans to save $1.5 million by laying off 13 police officers and $1.2 million by laying off eight firefighter-paramedics.

Ray Violetto, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police representative for the Matteson officers, said the union responded to the village Friday, while Scott Gilliam, president of the Associated Firefighters of Matteson, said it responded Monday. Gilliam said the firefighters’ union wants more information about the village’s financial situation in advance of any meeting. Violetto said he wasn’t authorized to elaborate on his union’s strategy but hoped village officials would get back to the unions soon on the next steps.

The village’s Tuesday deadline for the unions to respond followed Monday night’s village board meeting where many in a large crowd questioned the need for the layoffs and urged trustees to find areas of the budget other than public safety to make cuts. The planned layoffs were not on the meeting agenda.

… a major unanswered question is “why are firefighters and police the first to be cut?” No one in the administration has explained what other cutbacks, if any, are planned.

Gilliam and Violetto said the public works department hired Trustee Bridget Dancy’s husband two weeks ago. A call seeking comment from that department was directed back to Mitchell’s office.

Gilliam said he didn’t understand the village’s logic in cutting its first responders because it “goes against common sense.”

“If these layoffs take place, there will be a snowball effect,” said Violetto, who has more than 28 years of law enforcement experience. “You’re going to have slower response times and officer fatigue because they’ll be doing a lot more work than they had in the past.”

Village officials sought voter approval Nov. 4 for home-rule authority, which would give them more taxing powers, such as adopting a local sales tax, to raise revenue. They warned that defeat of home rule would force them to make layoffs, including in public safety, but voters rejected the change by a vote of 3,322 to 3,121.

Matteson’s failed attempts in recent years to save Lincoln Mall, which closed this month, and the steadily declining sales tax revenue from the mall, also contributed to the rising budget shortfall.

thanks Dan

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Layoffs may come to Matteson (more)

Excerpts from on the possibility of police and fire layoffs in Matteson:

In Matteson, residents packed the Village Hall to vent their frustrations.  The Village has warned police they may have to cut 13 officers, or half of its patrol staff. The fire department may have to eliminate eight firefighter paramedics, or about a quarter of its work force.

The layoffs could begin as soon as February 20th as a way to help deal with an $8 million budget shortfall the village of Matteson is facing this year. However, the concern at the meeting is why first responders are the first ones on the chopping block.  The cuts were not on the agenda at Monday’s meeting, but concerned residents joined an overflow crowd including a lot of firefighters and police who demanded cuts be made elsewhere.

The police and fire department unions were notified last week about the layoffs. They were the first departments put on notice. “Any further reductions could potentially do more harm than good. No layoffs are acceptable, none,” said Police Union President Robert Wilson. “For the first line of cuts to be fire and police goes against common sense,” said Firefighters Union President Scott Gilliam.

The village administrator said for police and fire to avoid layoffs, there will have to be salary negotiations. Residents were particularly concerned that the layoffs could cause police and fire response times to skyrocket, putting their safety in real danger.

Residents told the village board they should cut administration salaries first, and the Board President assured people that the entire budget was under review.

thanks Dan

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Layoffs may come to Matteson

Excerpts from an 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 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

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