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updated: 8/4/2013 6:09 PM

Buffalo Grove debates where to make budget cuts

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Always on the lookout for ways to deliver services while also cutting costs, Buffalo Grove last week unveiled a proposal to carve services even more finely.

At the committee of the whole meeting, Deputy Village Manager Jennifer Maltas presented possible staffing reductions, department consolidations and revenue increases that would result in savings of approximately $1.5 million.

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The goal, Village Manager Dane Bragg said, is to chip away at a projected deficit of $1.6 million in 2014.

The proposed staffing reductions include dropping from nine sergeants to seven in the police department. One position is currently open, while another is staffed by a retiring sergeant.

In the fire department, the retiring deputy marshal's position would be incorporated into the building and zoning department, with duties absorbed by two staffers there who deal with the deputy fire marshal.

Bragg noted that the village is reducing its full-time staff from 240 employees in 2010 to a projected 215 employees in 2014.

The village also is planning to restructure the building and zoning, and the planning departments into a new community development department.

In addition, the building and zoning and finance customer service areas would be consolidated as the first step toward the village implementing a 311 customer service center.

Other changes would include reducing the crossing guard hours from four to three, and eliminating overtime for the police department's bike patrol.

Board members expressed reservations about two proposed changes: the elimination of the K9 program and of the holiday lighting program. Maltas said the lighting program involves more than 500 hours of staff time while the K9 cost averages out to $5,800 per search.

Trustee Beverly Sussman expressed concern for the impact of cutting the K9 program.

"The K9 program, for some children, that's the first introduction they have to the police department," she said.

Trustee Andrew Stein said there was a K9 search in his neighborhood on the eastern edge of the village last summer.

"If you're trying to get somebody quickly and trying to track them down quickly, we're losing," he said of cutting the program. He also said it is a nice feature to have the village campus lit up at night.

But Village President Jeffrey Braiman asked, "Are the lights critical to us?"

"We all would like to have lights but we have to make some (tough) decisions sometimes," Braiman said. "How are you going to cut and how are you going to balance your budget?"

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