Country Club Hills budget calls for $6 million in cuts
By Casey Toner email@example.com July 27, 2012 10:20PM
Updated: August 30, 2012 6:23AM
A proposed spending plan for Country Club Hills would slash the city’s spending by more than $6 million and lead to cutbacks in policing and government services such as low-cost rides for seniors to get kidney dialysis treatments, officials said.
Country Club Hills’ latest budget proposal is set for a vote next month, but Mayor Dwight Welch said the proposed cuts are calculated political attacks against him.
The city’s facing a $9.6 million budget deficit, not counting an extra $6.6 million it owes Cook County after being overpaid its share of property tax revenue last year. Cook County is suing Country Club Hills to get its money back.
In June, the city council rejected Welch’s proposed $35 million budget which called for a 7 percent increase from the previous year’s $33 million budget.
Ald. Vincent Lockett (2nd) said the latest proposal calls for about $27 million in spending. It will be presented at a city council meeting in August.
But the city’s fire chief, police chief, and head of the transportation department say the cuts will deplete community services, increase overtime charges and cut back on revenue.
Police Chief William Brown said he was asked to cut about $1.5 million from the department’s $8 million budget.
Brown said the cuts would lead to limits on police services. He says he would have to lay off five police officers, two dispatchers, six community service officers, nine part-time community service officers and three part-time clerks to balance the budget.
“We can’t do lock outs and chase dogs around the street if we have burglaries,” Brown said about the cuts.
And, Brown said, the proposed cuts to police would lose the city money.
The community service officers hand out about $480,000 worth of tickets every year, and the five police officers process about $1.2 million in red-light tickets annually, he said.
Nevertheless, Lockett said that the police department will have to “find other solutions to make it work.”
Fire Chief Roger Agpawa, who was sworn in last month, said he needs an extra $240,000 to hire four firefighters to maintain adequate staffing at the two stations.
Agpawa said the city racked up more than $400,000 in overtime for firefighters last year due to the undermanned fire stations. The department is on pace to spend $600,000 on overtime if the jobs are not filled, he said.
Lockett suggested the village only staff one station and close the other.
Victor Watts, the head of the city’s transportation department, said he also is bracing for cuts.
The transportation department gives seniors rides three days a week to doctors offices, dialysis clinics and grocery stores among other places. Seniors are charged $1 per ride.
“I don’t know how you’d tell dialysis riders after four or five years you can no longer take them to dialysis,” Watts said.
Lockett claimed he didn’t know yet whether the transportation would be eliminated.
“I think we need to look at how it’s being ran and managed,” Lockett said. “It makes no sense. It’s not beneficial to financial crisis we’re in.”