Service Cuts | Bleader

Service Cuts

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Since Chicago's first-round failure to bring home an Olympic bid, calls have grown louder for Mayor Daley and the City Council to turn their attention back to running the city and addressing serious problems ranging from street violence to a troubled transit system. But after several years of budget problems and multiple rounds of layoffs—and another huge budget hole for 2010—it's going to be harder and harder to pull off.

A close look at the city's payroll records shows that over the last year and a half the Daley administration has been forced to shed scores of jobs responsible for core service delivery such as policing, criminal investigations, emergency communications, traffic control, garbage pickup, tree trimming, airport security, and public health care.

According to payroll records, the administration cut 2,245 jobs between March 2008 and October 2009, reducing the total city workforce to 36,296. That's the smallest it's been in at least 18 years.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest departments in the city took the biggest hits, starting with the police department. Here are the five departments with the most cuts:

DEPARTMENT / OCTOBER 2009 PAYROLL / JOB LOSSES SINCE MARCH 08 / SHARE OF DEPT WORKFORCE
POLICE 14962 / 584 / 4%
STREETS & SAN 2766 / 512 / 16%
EMERGENCY MGMT 1430 / 311 / 18%
AVIATION / 1534 1228 / 306 / 20%
PUBLIC HEALTH 1007 / 200 / 17%


And here are the five that have lost the biggest portion of their workforce:

DEPARTMENT / OCTOBER 2009 PAYROLL / JOB LOSSES SINCE MARCH 08 / SHARE OF DEPT WORKFORCE
CULTURAL AFFAIRS 52 / 13 / 20%
AVIATION 1228 / 306 / 20%
SPECIAL EVENTS 58 / 14 / 19%
HUMAN RELATIONS 30 / 7 / 19%
ENVIRONMENT 77 / 17 / 18%


Many of the cuts raise service-delivery red flags:

* The police department now has 243 fewer police officers (leaving it with 9,791), 94 fewer detectives (1,118), 62 fewer field training officers (90), and 62 fewer crossing guards (862).

* The Office of Emergency Management and Communications has lost 10 police communications operators (it's down to 152) and 275 traffic control aides (615).

* Streets and San is down 64 sanitation laborers (it has 1,014 now), 26 Bureau of Electricity laborers who do street lamp and other maintenance (57), and 14 tree trimmers (102).

* Aviation has cut 253 motor pool truck drivers (leaving it with 124), all 29 of its airport customer service workers, and 12 of 44 aviation security officers.

* The health department pink-slipped 15 social work assistants (it's down to 11), 14 public health aides (47 left), 4 of its 22 physicians, 3 of its 4 dentists, and dozens of support staff.

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