Off the books | Bleader

Off the books

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Last week Chicago aldermen held a lengthy commemoration of former mayor Harold Washington, who died the day before Thanksgiving 20 years ago. Several praised Washington, universally known as Harold, for bringing accountability and transparency to the job. Even Mayor Daley, whom Washington defeated in 1983, said as much. "He brought openness to city government," Daley said, as well as, "I want to thank him for restoring my father's desk--he found it in the basement of City Hall."

Then the council passed the 2008 budget.

In the previous few weeks, some aldermen had groused that they didn't have enough time to scrutinize the budget before they had to vote on it. What none wanted to admit publicly is that the budget documents are, frankly, complicated and confusing. The line item sections of the budget--which show some detail about how taxpayer money is spent in each department--are organized by revenue stream rather than overall expenditures. This means that if you want to see, say, how many employees Streets & San will have next year and how much they're being paid, you'd need to look several places and then add the numbers up on your own--even in the document labeled by the city as a "budget summary."

To make matters more perplexing, some of the line items aren't complete. For certain jobs, the number of positions is listed but not the pay rate. For others, such as laborer positions, the hourly rate is included in the budget but not the number of people who'll be paid at that rate. "The following employees, as needed, are authorized to be employed when requested by the department head concerned and approved by the Budget Director," reads the line item for a section of the Department of General Services.

As a result, the budget essentially hides dozens of jobs from public view.

The 2007 budget itemized 39.950 city jobs, most of them salaried, some hourly or seasonal. And as of last week, 39,796 people were on the city payroll, well under the budgeted figure. 

In several departments, though, the payroll included far more employees more than what was budgeted last year, from the mayor's office (three unbudgeted positions) to City Council (119), from the Department of Fleet Management (124) to the office of Emergency Management (475). Among the hidden jobs are staffers for the City Council's committees and labor positions that earn up to $41.55 an hour.

The budget passed by the council cut 104 positions from the mayor's proposal. It's unclear how many will remain on the payroll through budgeting magic.

Here's how it worked out this year by department:

 

CITY PAYROLL BY DEPARTMENT

11/14/2007 Payroll

Budgeted 2007

Unbudgeted positions on payroll

 

 

 

 

001-  OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

81

78

3

003-  OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

59

61

-2

004- O'HARE MODERNIZATION PROGRAM

32

55

-23

005-  OFFICE OF BUDGET & MANAGEMENT

66

47

19

006-  BUSINESS & INFORMATION SERVICES

83

92

-9

008-  PLANNING &  DEVELOPMENT

175

170

5

013-  OFFICE OF WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

62

67

-5

015-  CITY COUNCIL

353

234

119

021-  DEPT OF HOUSING

148

170

-22

023-  DEPT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS

72

70

2

024-  SPECIAL EVENTS

142

72

70

025-  CITY CLERK

115

129

-14

027-  DEPT OF FINANCE

220

231

-11

028-  CITY TREASURER

22

23

-1

029-  DEPT OF REVENUE

401

446

-45

030-  ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS

50

50

0

031-  DEPT OF LAW

517

500

17

OFFICE OF COMPLIANCE

0

0

0

033-  DEPT OF HUMAN RESOURCES

122

122

0

035-  DEPT OF PROCUREMENT SERVICES

111

136

-25

037-  GRAPHICS & REPRODUCTION CENTER

39

43

-4

038-  DEPT OF GENERAL SERVICES

481

488

-7

039-  BOARD OF ELECTION COMMISSIONER

128

137

-9

040-  DEPT OF FLEET MGMT

749

625

124

041-  DEPT OF PUBLIC HEALTH

1216

1460

-244

045-  COMMISSION ON HUMAN RELATIONS

38

42

-4

047-  DEPT OF AGING

501

379

122

048-  OFFICE FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY

40

43

-3

052-  DEPT OF CHILDREN AND YOUTH SERVICES

199

264

-65

053-  DEPT OF HUMAN SERVICES

209

255

-46

055-  POLICE BOARD

2

2

0

OFFICE OF PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS

0

0

0

057-  DEPT OF POLICE

15826

16196

-370

POLICE--CAPS OFFICE

0

74

-74

058-  OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MGMT & COMMUNICATION

1731

1256

475

059-  FIRE DEPARTMENT

5058

5197

-139

061-  DEPT OF ZONING

39

41

-2

067-  DEPT OF BUILDINGS

273

343

-70

068-  DEPT OF CONSTRUCTION & PERMITS

88

104

-16

071-  DEPT OF CONSUMER SERVICES

121

142

-21

072-  ENVIRONMENT

96

94

2

073-  COMM ANIMAL CARE AND CONTROL

73

85

-12

076- DEPARTMENT OF BUSINESS AFFAIRS AND LICENSING

99

115

-16

077-  LICENSE APPEAL COMMISSION

1

2

-1

078-  BOARD OF ETHICS

8

11

-3

081-  DEPT OF STREETS & SANITATION

3232

3544

-312

084-  TRANSPORTATION

1166

829

337

085-  DEPT OF AVIATION

1468

1500

-32

088-  DEPT OF WATER MANAGEMENT

2088

2460

-372

091-  CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY

1309

1466

-157

 

 

 

 

Grand Total

39109

39950

-841

 

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