First posted 3/9/2009 4:32 p.m.

After more than 12 years working for the Village of Oak Park, Deputy Village Manager M. Ray Wiggins was laid off last week.

Wiggins, one of two deputy managers, was let go as a budget-cutting measure in the face of declining revenues in a slumping economy, according to a memo to village staff. Wiggins was paid $125,000 a year.

Village Manager Tom Barwin could not be reached for comment Monday. But spokesman David Powers said village hall wants to make cuts at the top and bottom of the employment hierarchy to respond to the economy.

According to the memo, Oak Park is also laying off a human resource recruiting analyst and a neighborhood code enforcement officer.

“These are challenging times and downsizing decisions are not easy for any of us, including and especially our colleagues who must experience layoff and employment transition,” Barwin said in the memo.

After a steady decline over the past three years, Oak Park collected only $47,208 from the real estate transfer tax this January, the lowest of any month since February 1995. The tax is paid when someone sells a property. The fee earned the village as much as $358,000 in January of 2006.

In February, Barwin said village hall would need to cut $1 million out of this year’s budget. This comes after the village already cut $2.5 million heading into this year to close a $3.1 million deficit.

Since more than 80 percent of Oak Park’s budget consists of personnel costs, the $1 million in cuts would mostly be made up by layoffs, Barwin said last month. Powers was uncertain as of Monday afternoon if more positions will be cut.

“Everyone here is essentially on notice that there’s potential for other layoffs because we have to keep expenses as low as possible, based on the amount of revenue that’s coming in,” Powers said. “Our operation has been affected, just like every other business in the country with the economic downturn.”

Wiggins joined the Village of Oak Park in 1997 as assistant to the village manager and was promoted to deputy village manager in 2004. He oversaw the fire, police, parking and public works departments, which will report directly to Barwin now, according to the memo.

CONTACT: mstempniak@wjinc.com

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