Mayor Lori Lightfoot considering up to $200 million in Chicago city worker cuts to balance budget: sources

Mayor Lori Lightfoot is considering possible cuts of up to $200 million in Chicago’s city government workforce to help fill an estimated $1.2 billion budget deficit for 2021, sources told the Tribune.

The $200 million total could include a mix furloughs and layoffs, though sources said the figure is tentative and could change ahead of Lightfoot’s scheduled Oct. 21 city budget address. Lightfoot has not yet finalized her city budget plans but sources said some Chicago labor unions are preparing alternative cuts to present her administration.

City officials did not immediately comment.

Lightfoot first laid out the city’s projected deficit in August, but has declined to provide specifics about how the city will fill the hole, saying officials are working on plans.

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Making significant cuts to the city’s workforce is one option under serious consideration, sources said.

The mayor previously promised to use a TIF surplus and consider a computer lease tax as other potential measures. Lightfoot has said that “all options are on the table,” though property taxes and job cuts are at the back of her list.

The ongoing coronavirus crisis also has also spiked the 2020 budget shortfall to nearly $800 million, Lightfoot said. In August, she said that deficit would be filled using relief funds and other unspecified aid from the federal government, in addition to debt refinancing, and borrowing.

Though Lightfoot has not addressed specific cuts, she suggested during her August speech that the city would be making staffing changes due to COVID-19.

“The reality is that life will be different for the foreseeable future, impacting how services are provided and how departments are structured, and we must adjust to meet that reality,” Lightfoot said at the time.

“A very difficult part of re-imagining government will also include looking to our workforce, and making needed changes in places that are not being fully utilized during the remainder of this crisis and in our post-COVID-19 world,” she said.

*story by The Chicago Tribune