Forrest Claypool, the newly appointed president of the Chicago Transit Authority, isn't wasting much time in cutting costs at the cash-strapped agency, announcing on Monday proposals to save around $15 million.
Chief among them is the elimination of 54 managerial jobs at the CTA, almost all of which were already vacant. That move follows a mandate by mayor Rahm Emanuel that all city agencies cut 10 percent of senior management positions; it will save the CTA $7.6 million. The remaining savings come from materials, utilities, contracts and delayed hiring, NBC Chicago reports.
“The CTA faces severe financial challenges and cannot wait for next year’s budget to begin making cuts,” Claypool said in a statement. “By reorganizing and streamlining, we gain immediate savings with no adverse effect on the current level and quality of service provided to customers.”
According to the Chicago Tribune, Claypool was mum on the prospect of raising fares.
In November of 2009, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn cut a deal with the Regional Transportation Authority, which oversees the CTA, to avoid fare hikes for two years. But the deal was contingent on the state paying money it owes to the CTA and RTA, which it hasn't done: the Tribune reports that Illinois owes $400 million to the RTA, nearly $100 million of which is slated to go to the CTA.
Without that state money, the agency has resorted in recent years to budgetary trickery in order to balance its books. Capital improvement dollars have been funneled to the operations budget to fill holes there, which means that a number of major improvement projects around the city have been put on hold due to lack of funds.