The first two items of employee benefit cuts and other cost savings proposed by Alderman Brad Judd of Rolling Meadows' Fourth Ward failed in 4-3 votes at Tuesday's city council meeting.
Judd proposed a list of changes at the March 18 committee of the whole meeting that has unleashed heated council debate and a call for a return to civility among aldermen. The council agreed to study or consider several of the ideas, and Judd plans to introduce a few more suggestions at future meetings.
"The idea is to save money and serve the people we represent, the taxpayers," Judd said after the meeting. "Taxes are never, ever, ever going to go down because nobody is willing to ever say 'we have to look at how the private sector works.' The only way they're paying any of those benefits is out of taxpayers' pockets."
These ideas should not be considered a reflection on how city employees are doing their jobs, said Judd, just as he thinks firefighters are doing a "tremendous job," but a few years ago proposed studying privatization of the fire department. Public outcry doomed that idea.
Perhaps the most radical of Judd's current proposals is studying whether the city should set a different pay schedule for future hires, especially if it seems that some positions are overpaid. The council agreed the staff should study the two-tier salary issue for presentation at a future meeting.
Tuesday's votes dealt only with holidays, and all of the proposals would affect about 75 employees who are not unionized. The police and fire department have 85 unionized employees.
Christmas Eve and the day after Thanksgiving are currently paid city holidays, and the proposal was to replace those with one or two floating holidays. Voting against the ordinance were Len Prejna of the Second Ward; Laura Majikes of the Third Ward, Robert Banger Jr. of the Fifth Ward, and Jim Larsen of the Seventh Ward. Voting in favor were Judd, Mike Cannon of the First Ward, and John D'Astice of the Sixth Ward.
City Manager Barry Krumstok asked in a memo if this would take away from the "family value" of the city.
"The Day after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve holiday often create the only four-day holiday/weekend periods of a calendar," the memo said. "These holidays are the most family-oriented of all holidays (and very American)."
He also said that in 2010 and 2011 the council started reducing benefits for nonunion employees that previously were on the same level as those who are organized.
Veterans Day is also a paid holiday, and the proposal was to eliminate the holiday when the day falls on a Saturday or Sunday.
The votes were the same for this except that Banger voted in favor of the move and D'Astice against it.
In a memo to the council, Krumstok said the financial savings from this would be small and "How does this look for a community that was founded by many World War II and Korean veterans."
Another of Judd's proposals that will come to the council at a future date is setting dollar amounts for longevity pay increases rather than percentages of salaries.