On Monday night, in front of a standing-room-only crowd, Matteson’s village officials dismissed the idea of laying off 40 percent of its police department and about a third of its fire department – which they had been proposing.
Village President Andre Ashmore said layoffs are off the table for now and officials will look at ideas such as selling the municipal water system to generate more money for the financially troubled south suburb. Ashmore’s statements came the same day a Better Government Association investigation on Matteson’s questionable spending ran in the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ashmore had a change of heart saying, “I cannot and will not support massive layoffs at this particular time.”
The village board meeting was heavily covered by local media and included cheers from the crowd when Ashmore announced the decision to avoid police and fire layoffs. The gathering also included angry comments from residents when officials said the village has a revenue problem and not a spending problem. (There’s a budget deficit of nearly $8 million.) The BGA reported that even as the village’s finances were trending downward the suburb leased a new car for the part-time village president, built a multimillion-dollar community center that voters didn’t want and gave pay raises to village board members – while also employing their relatives on the taxpayer dime.