Chicago shuts down to cut costs

City Hall
Closed for the day. The City of Chicago has shut down to cut costs. Image: iStock.

By Angela Dorizas

Public services in the US City of Chicago were shut down on Monday in an attempt to tackle the city’s massive budget deficit.

City hall, libraries, health clinics and senior service centres were closed for the day and rubbish collection and street sweeping were cancelled. Police and emergency services remained at full strength.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley thanked his employees for taking an enforced holiday without pay.

“This plan relies on most of our civilian employees to be part of the solution to our very serious budget challenges,” Daley said in a statement.

“I want to thank them again for their sacrifice.”

Reduced-service days have also been scheduled for the day following Thanksgiving (27 November) and Christmas Eve (24 December).

Monday’s reduced-service day was originally scheduled for New Year’s Eve, but City Council voted to move it forward to August 17.

The City of Chicago anticipates that the reduced-service days will save up to $US8.3 million.

“Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain service for Chicagoans,” Daley said.

In addition to the reduced-service days, all non-union employees have been asked to take a series of furlough days and unpaid holidays. The Mayor has also taken a 15-day pay cut – and has called on President Barack Obama and all federal employees to do the same.

The furlough days and unpaid holidays are expected to reduce Chicago’s budget deficit by more than $US34 million. However, the City still faces a $US300 million revenue shortfall.

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