Don Gerard officially will become the mayor of Champaign tonight just after 7 p.m., when he is sworn in to office during the city council meeting. He issued a press release earlier today summarizing what his transition team found -- they have been meeting with city administrators during the past few weeks.
Here is his statement in full:
I am proud of my campaign team and excited for the opportunity to serve the people of Champaign. It is imperative we re-examine the proposed budget and make it our top priority preserve our first-responders in times of crisis and the units which support their efforts. The unfortunate recent events emphasize the vital role these groups have in working together to keep our community safe.
My transition team members have cited a number of opportunities to allocate taxpayer dollars in a manner which will retain jobs, return community programs and provide for a citywide summer youth jobs program. It is my belief, when presented with this different take on the budget, my fellow council members will support me in providing directives which best serve the taxpayers.
Additionally, I believe the notion of 'shared responsibility' must include all levels of local government and I believe, if we are, in fact, facing the worst budget situation in 40 years, the department heads should be subject to a 5% pay cut. This reduction should stand until it is determined direct services to taxpayers are no longer at risk.
The challenges we face pose unique opportunities. I am grateful the citizens of Champaign have granted me the chance to work together with my esteemed fellow council members to bring upon positive change, progress and growth. I promise I will do my best each and every day to live up to the challenge of striving to make our community the absolute best it can be and allow every citizen to be proud to call Champaign home.
Asking for a 5 percent pay cut from city department heads is a step back from the 10 percent for which he asked during the campaign. Though I have not heard of any response to this yet from the department heads themselves. Keep an eye out for coverage, because I will be keeping a close eye on this myself.
I'll also be keeping a look out to see what the transition team cited as "opportunities to allocate taxpayer dollars in a manner which will retain jobs, return community programs and provide for a citywide summer youth jobs program." It's never a bad thing to get a fresh set of eyes on the city budget.