Ill. city votes to lay off or furlough police officers

City officials said they needed to furlough and lay off employees due to expected COVID-19 revenue shortfalls

Mike Koziatek
Belleville News-Democrat

BELLEVILLE, Ill. — The Belleville City Council on Friday unanimously voted to either lay off or furlough 56 public employees, including two police officers and four firefighters, because of an expected shortfall in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This has been a very difficult week for department heads — weeks — and for all of us,” Mayor Mark Eckert said as the special meeting ended.

“It was not an easy vote and I thank all of you for your sincere deliberations,” he told the aldermen.

The jobs reduction is expected to save the city about $700,000 and other measures are expected to yield $300,000 in saving for a total of $1 million, Eckert said after the meeting.

Eckert said the city needed to consider furloughs and layoffs because of the expected drop in revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic linked to the deaths of over 3,200 people in Illinois.

Most of the employees will stop work on May 16 until further notice but some employees will stop in June.

The actions affect multiple departments and both union and non-union positions.

Along with the police and fire departments, employees in marketing, public works, parks, housing inspections, library, sewer bill collections and economic development were affected the decision.

Aldermen discussed the issue in a closed meeting for about an hour on Friday and on Monday, the council discussed the issue for about 80 minutes.

Businesses that generate sales tax revenue for the city and state have had to close or reduce operations since March as part of Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order issued to reduce the number of COVID-19 patients.

The largest single source of revenue for the city’s day-to-day operations comes from sales tax revenue.

Gaming revenues, income tax revenue and fees are also sources of revenue affected by the pandemic.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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