Quincy braces for unexpected budget losses

UPDATED: May 4 at 5 p.m.

The City of Quincy is bracing for a big budget loss this coming fiscal year.

Losses could come from two different directions in Springfield as lawmakers try to make up for the budget shortfall and pay more than 4 point 5 billion dollars in overdue bills.

Here's the breakdown:

1) Governor Pat Quinn has suggested suspending payments of local tax money back to the cities which generate it. Quinn hoped to press republicans in the general assembly to back a borrowing plan to pay the states backlog of unpaid bills. Quinn needs bipartisan support to garner the 3/5 majority needed to back his barrowing plan.

2) The General Assembly wants to cut $300 million from the tax dollars cities send in and receive back from the state.

That figures out to be a reduction of $23 per resident for each municipality. For Quincy, it's a $1 million potential loss.

Click here to see the figures.

Quincy leaders say these cuts will touch your life.

Mayor John Spring said, "This is not scare tactics here. This is the reality of what's going on in Springfield and in our Governor's office."

Mayor Spring says Quincy has dealt with a lot of budget cuts before. But the possibility of losing anywhere from one to five million dollars in one fatal sweep is overwhelming. Spring says it seems the state is looking to its budget bound, cash-strapped cities to make up for its mistakes.

"Is it fair?"

Mayor Spring said, "No I don't think'd be faced with the loss of services or raising taxes and no one wants to do that. We have reached a critical stage when it comes to local government distributive funds. That money is what funds city services in our communities."

To add insult to injury, when lawmakers passed an income tax increase earlier this year, municipalities were not included in the payout. That extra money goes straight to the state's coffers.

The past few years have been frought with cost cutting here in Quincy. The city has already dropped 31 positions throughout the city departments with attrition and retirements. Now with the prospect of losing that much money, the city is back at the drawing board, looking for ways to cut back. Something potentially on the chopping block is public safety.

Fire Chief Joe Henning said, "With the police and fire departments being two of the largest budgets in the city, it would be hard for us not to escape unscathed."

Chief Henning says cutting that much from the budget means eliminating firefighters. And since at least three have to be on a truck for safety reasons, that could mean closing one or even two fire stations. Chief Henning says it's too soon to talk about what stations may close if these cuts happen. But he says people need to understand the impact.

"Would that jeopardize safety of the public?"

Henning said, "It would, increase response times...there's no other way around it but at the end of the day I have to ensure that every firefighter that goes to work can go home. I can't put them in situations that would put their life in jeopardy as well."

Nothing is set in stone yet, but Mayor Spring and all other mayors of cities all over the state will sure to be watching what happens here in Springfield very closely in the days ahead.

Illinois State Senator John Sullivan says, distributing the funds away from municipalities would be detrimental to cities who rely on this money.

Here's how your community could be affected by the General Assembly's plan to cut $23.40 per person in Illinois from municipality budgets.


Original Story:

The City of Quincy is bracing for a big budget loss this coming fiscal year.

Word from the state is that the Governor may keep a portion of tax money due to cities across the state to make up for the state's budget woes.

In Quincy that could add up to between a five to 40 percent cut in allocated state dollars. With a potential loss of $1 to $4 million dollars, Quincy Mayor John Spring says that could translate into the closure of a fire station or two.

We talked to Fire Chief Joe Henning Wednesday. He says while it's too soon to talk about closing a particular station, people need to understand the potential impact of budget cuts to public safety.