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Rahm Cuts Payroll, Freezes 'Nonessential' Spending

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Rahm Freezes 'Nonessential' Spending
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel targeted top management paychecks and nonessential spending as part of $75 million he plans to cut from Chicago's 2011 fiscal budget.

Emanuel announced Tuesday morning he will take $5.5 million from senior management payroll, as well as freeze nonessential contract spending to save $17.5 million and improve grants management to save $31.2 million.

"It's important on Day One to put the city's fiscal house in order," he said.

Other budget reductions include: reducing outside legal counsel expenses by $3 million, consolidating overlapping city department to save $3.5 million, cutting back on energy consumption and leased space by $5 million, reducing the number of city vehicles by $1.5 million, returning 60 injured laborers to work to save $500,000, better coordinating traffic control to save $2.3 million, and better coordinating street repairs and construction projects to save $5 million.

The budget hole is $587 million.

The move on Emanuel's first full day as Chicago mayor follows a goal he touted Monday during his inaugural address to shrink government and save money.

“Our city’s financial situation is difficult and profound,” he said. “We must look at every aspect of city government and ask the basic questions, 'Do we need it? Is it worth it? Can we afford it?'"

Before the announcement, Emanuel greeted commuters at the 95th Street "L" stop to uphold a promise he made during his campaign.

"I made a commitment that if I won, on the first day I got sworn in, I'd come back to 95th and the Dan Ryan," Emanuel said. "This is where I've done five stops on the campaign. I wanted to make sure on the first day that I was back here thanking the people that were very important."

Some commuters acknowledged the kept promise and said they look forward to finding out how Emanuel can promote change.

"It's exciting," said commuter Carmelita Curry. "I'm looking for someone to get in there and shake it up. ... Safety for residents, and our children need a good education. I'm all for the full [school] day."

"We are asking three things," said Christine Perkins of Inner City Youth and Adult Foundation. "We are native Chicagoans, we've been here for over 60 years. Educate the children by upgrading the curriculum, dropout prevention and re-enrollment. Resurface the streets and create jobs!"

Similar concerns were plentiful, and Emanuel said he heard a lot of talk about schools and safety.

"This is my responsibility to them, the parents," Emanuel said during a news conference. "Making sure our schools are safe and strong, our streets are safe and our finances are stable, so that we can have a bright future."

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