Possible layoffs for Franklin Park employees
January 11, 2010
A plan to lay off police officers, firefighters and utility workers drew more than 100 mostly village employees to a meeting Monday night, Jan. 11, at Franklin Park Village Hall.
If approved by trustees, the layoffs would cut the police force from 49 to 41. Firefighters would see their numbers shrink from 41 to 35.
In December, trustees had already voted to eliminate five empty firefighter positions.
“Everyone wants their ambulance calls answered and their houses not burning,” said Lt. Paul Strzala of the Franklin Park Fire Department. “Some feel fire service is an important thing.”
The village recently offered buyouts to village utility workers and some administrative staff. It's unknown how many people accepted those.
Village President Barrett Pedersen briefly acknowledged the reason for the abnormally crowded room, which was filled with people wearing jackets reading Illinois Association of Firefighters on the back.
“Most of you are losing sleep wondering whether you'll have jobs,” Pedersen said.
After the public portion of the meeting, concerned mostly with the condition of roads in Franklin Park, trustees and representatives for the fire department retired to another room to negotiate.
Most of the village's firefighters stayed put, however, waiting for information.
Police officers initially stuck around. Then a report of an officer shot during a chase had them running toward their squad cars.
After negotiations behind closed doors ended at 10:15 p.m., Pedersen said cutting police and firefighters is “less likely” but refused to rule them out.
He also said that there would be no job cuts in public works.
“There are enough people retiring through the IMRF (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund) early retirement,” he said.
The village has found itself in rough financial shape the last six months partially do to the poor economy, but mostly due to what Pedersen describes as years of overspending by trustees.
At last report, the village was $8.7 million in debt. In recent months trustees instituted garbage fees, increased fees for various service, increased the number of auxiliary police to write more citations and searched for other ways to cut spending and increase revenue.
The village attorney announced the proposed layoffs during police contract negotiations on Jan. 7. Both the firefighters and police officers are working under expired contracts.
The next trustee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19.