With revenues falling short, Buffalo Grove takes aim at personnel costs

Facing a $3.3 million revenue shortfall due to COVID-19, Buffalo Grove village officials are looking to cut some of the personnel costs that make up 70% of the town's budget.

The plan includes reducing and reorganizing the staff through furloughs, eliminating open positions, deferring hiring and promotions, and an incentive for early retirements.

That Voluntary Separation Incentive program will result in the departure of 17 employees, including the director of public works.

Under the program, eligible employees will receive $25,000 that can be placed in either a retirement health savings account, a deferred compensation account or a combination of the two. It is expected to save the village $1 million in the 2021 fiscal year and reduce the full-time workforce by nearly 8%.

In July, village Finance Director Chris Black projected $4 million less in revenue than the $45.5 million initially budgeted at the start of the year. Some of that should be offset by $700,000 in CARES Act funding, officials said.

Deputy Village Manager Jennifer Maltas said the incentive program will save on employee costs by allowing the village to replace retiring employees with entry-level workers.

Among those taking advantage are seven police department employees: two members of the records division including the records supervisor, two sergeants, and three police officers.

One of the sergeant positions will be filled, while the other sergeant's duties will be taken on by a lieutenant. Two of the police officers will be replaced.

"When we have to look at reorganization and reduction in personnel, the first thing we do is we ensure that our basic core services never change," Police Chief Steven Casstevens told the village board Monday. "And those will not change."

Trustee Eric Smith said his main concern is for health and safety, but he is convinced the staff reductions will not put residents at risk.

Four employees in the building and zoning division of the community development department also are taking the retirement incentive, and the village may expand the use of contractors to provide inspections.

Five employees in public works will retire early, including two in the fleet division and two in forestry. Since those four employees are part of the village's snow and ice operations, making changes in public works will require more analysis, Maltas said.

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