November 02, 2009 | 05:27 AM
Staring at a $1.3 million deficit in its 2010 operating budget, Orland Park intends to layoff some Village employees and offer those who qualify an early retirement package, officials said last week.
The Village also plans to suspend its annual homeowners tax rebate for a minimum of two years to fix a $7 million shortfall in its capital budget, Village Manager Paul Grimes said.
"Layoffs are clearly something the board is looking at," Grimes said after the Village Board
committee meetings on Oct. 26. "It's unspecified at this time how many employees will be laid off. We're looking at all departments."
Trustee Pat Gira said Orland Park is in the process of meeting with the five different labor unions that represent Village employees.
"We're hoping for some concessions from the unions regarding freezes on salary and furloughs," she said.
Officials have discussed pay freezes and furloughs, but would need union approval before implementing such actions.
Around a dozen employees have taken the voluntary retirement program, which will save the Village roughly $532,000, Gira said. The program is open to any Orland Park employee of retirement age. If they participate, the Village will pay 100 percent of their health insurance for the next two years and 50 percent for the three years after.
Trustees are also considering altering Village Hall hours to save salary and electric costs. Gira said the board may decide to eliminate Saturday hours, but keep Village Hall open later on Mondays when the building is already being heated and lit for Village Board meetings. Cutting Friday hours is another possibility, she said.
"We're trying to come up with solutions that have the least impact on the community," Gira said. "Not a lot of people come in to [Village Hall to] pay their bills on Saturday so that wouldn't be a major change."
Eliminating the homeowners tax rebate is almost certainly to occur, Grimes said. Trustees approved suspending the rebate during a special board meeting on Oct. 19. Homeowners would have received the rebate in March 2010.
The money will instead be used to fund capital projects such as road repaving and intersection widening, Grimes said. The Village has $31 million worth of capital projects, but only $24 million in funding sources. About $4.5 million was distributed as part of the rebate program last year, Grimes said.
Whatever cuts or changes the board decides will be made soon. Trustees are eyeing Dec. 7 as the date to approve the budget. The document must be available for review a few weeks prior, Grimes said.
Trustees introduced the budget at a workshop meeting on Sept. 19 with expected revenues of $42 million and anticipated expenditures of $44.5 million. Reducing the hours of part-time police, eliminating vehicle purchases for public works and cancelling several poorly attended recreational programs has trimmed the gap.Consultant Work
Members of the Village's Parks, Recreation and Environmental Initiatives Committee voted unanimously to recommend trustees hire consultant Teresa Fourcher to assist Orland Park in its green initiatives....continued on page 2