Best Buy closure forces West Dundee to consider $200,000 in cuts
The unexpected closure of the Best Buy store in West Dundee has caused a $200,000 budget shortfall in the village, forcing officials to consider a series of cuts.
Earlier this month, a corporate decision shuttered Best Buy, which was the largest generator of sales tax revenue in the village, Village Manager Joe Cavallaro said.
Village officials, meanwhile, have drawn up a budget amendment that would save nearly $216,000.
The most dramatic change would involve cutting part-time firefighters' hours at Station 2, leaving that station with two firefighter/paramedics instead of three.
The move is estimated to save $108,000 and would take place in July if the village board approves the amendment at an upcoming meeting in June.
This action would limit the response out of that fire station to ambulance calls only, leaving engine service up to Station 1 or to fire personnel from a neighboring district.
Moreover, response times for fire calls likely would increase from three minutes to five, Fire Chief Randy Freise said.
"I never like to reduce manpower, but I also understand the reality of the economic times," Freise said. "It was very difficult to do this, but we'll make it work, one way or the other."
The remainder of the proposal outlines saving $50,400 this year by switching health insurance carriers for the village's 54 full-time employees. They now use Blue Cross Blue Shield and would change over to United Healthcare.
The village would save another $30,000 by reducing hours for 12 part-time employees and seasonal workers in the public works department.
Finally, officials would save $14,300 by eliminating a community service officer position in the police department and another $13,000 by holding two village board meetings a month instead of three.
"The reality is we're a service organization, and 80 to 85 percent of our budget is personnel costs, and we've carved out a lot of low-hanging fruit over the last several years," Cavallaro said. "We're taking some pride in the fact that we haven't had to lay off anyone, but it comes at a cost, and that's either service reductions or reduced hours."
Besides Best Buy, West Dundee also recently lost J.C. Penney at Spring Hill Mall.
"It's tough, because our location between the Arboretum and Algonquin Commons makes it even more competitive for retailers," Cavallaro said.