The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago is anticipating a revenue shortage for 2009 and may freeze hiring for the rest of this year.
The budget constraints are mostly due to the economic downturn, says budget officer Beverly Sanders.
“It’s a rough economy and the revenue coming in is less than we had budgeted. So we have to take action now, so we don’t over extend ourselves,” says Administrative Services Manager Eileen M. McElligott.
The MWRD has received less interest income than planned. In addition, the agency is receiving less money from sewer system use fees, and less money from property taxes, according to details provided at an MWRD board study session yesterday.
The agency's budget gap is currently $18.3 million and could rise to $25 million before the end of the year, officials said.
In order to combat these shortages, the agency is considering a hiring freeze, and an effort to reduce overtime.
Additionally, the agency is considering halting a planned $10 million payment to a trust fund that covers healthcare for retirees.
“We’re ahead of schedule for that policy and that’s $10 million we want to look at if we need it someplace else,” said McElligott.
Commissioner Frank Avila said he'd like the federal government should step in.
“We are not getting any federal dollars and I feel the federal government has to come in and help us,” he said.
In other business, the board approved a $600 million bond issue that will pay for renovation of some aging facilities and the construction of new pumping stations and sewers.