Chicago closes for the day

The US city of Chicago closed all non-essential services yesterday (17 August) in an effort to save money and natural resources.

Refuse collections were axed along with all day to day services provided by the city apart from the police and fire brigade.

Chicago’s 2009 budget has a black hole of more than $34m and officials hope four separate day ‘closures’ will save $8.3m.

However, the city’s 2009 revenue shortfall is still expected to be about $300m.

The vast majority of city staff were given unpaid leave for the day, which is one of four put in place by city officials by the 2009 budget, primarily to save cash.

Chicago City Hall, public libraries, health clinics, senior service centres and other local government offices were all shut yesterday.

City mayor, Richard M Daley, said: “Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain services for Chicagoans.

“This plan relies on most of our civilian employees to be part of the solution to our very serious budget challenges. I want to thank them again for their sacrifice.”

Waste collections will resume today and will work as if yesterday was a bank holiday with waste and recycling collected a day late.

Further days are planned on the Friday after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday in November, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Luke Walsh

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