Metro East towns worry about possible budget cuts in Springfield -

Metro East towns worry about possible budget cuts in Springfield

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Belleville area leaders are fighting a proposal to cut 50 percent of a budget shared among Illinois municipalities.

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner made that proposal earlier this year. The cuts would take effect in July if passed by the state legislature. That's why 11 Metro East leaders participated in a news conference Wednesday morning and warned that if approved, the proposed cuts will affect important local services.

“That causes me concern. It's obviously not going to have positive impact on the community if that happens,” said Belleville resident, Michelle Brello.

Some residents like Brello argued that they are tired of hearing about budget cuts.

“I think the people that are making these decisions need to reach into their pockets first before they start taking away from everybody else,” said Belleville resident Scott Muir.

Belleville's mayor said if cuts do happen, it won't be because he wants to implement them.

He added the proposal from the governor to slash 50 percent of the municipal share of state income taxes or the local government distributive fund would cut $2.2 million from the city's budget.

“We need to be talking and listening and working together if we're going to do this in such a way that we can get out state back,” said Mayor Mark Eckert.

Back from a recession he argued already forced the city to make many other cuts.

“We had 20 people in the street department before 2008, we have 15. We had 20 people in our sanitation department now we have 15,” he said.

He added that a 50 percent cut might lead them to lay off some police officers, close one of the city's four fire departments, and cut jobs in public works.

It's not just Belleville, 11 other area municipalities including Alton and Collinsville could also face cuts, some up to the millions.

Metro East mayors hope to meet with Rauner on April 30 to talk about possible changes to the proposal.

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