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updated: 4/2/2014 8:46 AM

Carpentersville spares firefighter layoffs in budget

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The village board unanimously approved a $27.7 million budget Tuesday that spares two firefighters from losing their jobs, a move the union president called "a good sign, to say the least."

Trustees endorsed a cost-savings package that includes laying off three part-time civilian employees in the police and fire departments, closing three empty part-time jobs and more to help plug a projected $429,000 deficit. The layoffs are scheduled to take place April 30.

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The firefighter layoffs are postponed until April 30 while village officials and the union hash out a plan to save those jobs. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 8.

The union has already filed a grievance against the village over the planned firefighter layoffs.

Lt. Rick Nieves, president of the union for the 32 full-time firefighters, previously said members were looking at ways to save money within the entire budget as opposed to their own contract.

Village Manager J. Mark Rooney said the union has modified that stance.

"They're more focused on themselves now," Rooney said. "They're not happy that we didn't do more in the big budget, but they are focusing on their piece of the pie."

Nieves would not say whether the union has had a change of heart.

"We're looking at options that would be a give for both sides," he said. "Obviously, the goal is to prevent these firefighters from being laid off, but it's going to be a mutually agreed to thing."

At least two firefighters have attended nearly every budget and board meeting since Rooney announced the layoffs. At Tuesday's meeting, Public Safety Director Al Popp and Deputy Fire Chief John Skillman were the only people from the fire department.

Meanwhile, other elements to the cost-savings package the board approved Tuesday involved cross training a pair of code enforcement officers for two community service officer positions, putting off a $30,000 dog park, paying a $13,000 portion of the assistant village manager's salary from another fund and dipping into cash reserves to fill in the rest of the gap.

At the same time, the budget reserves $30,000 for a consultant to help the village develop its riverfront and improve its image.

Funds also are in place for a part-time training officer in the fire department, a job estimated to cost $34,986.

As well, $31,000 is budgeted to improve unreliable Internet connections in squad cars and fire department vehicles.

The new fiscal year begins May 1.

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