Page last updated at 08:18 GMT, Tuesday, 18 August 2009 09:18 UK

Chicago shuts down to save money


Chicago resident: "It's a huge inconvenience"

Public services in the US city of Chicago have been shut down for a day as the authorities face an expected budget shortfall of some $300m (£184m).

Non-essential services such as rubbish collections, libraries and health centres were closed, in the first of three planned reduced service days.

City authorities hope the move, with workers taking an enforced unpaid holiday, will save an estimated $8.3m.

Other cities in the US have already introduced similar measures.

The savings from Chicago's reduced service days are small compared with the overall deficit.

But in a statement last week, Chicago's Mayor Richard M Daley thanked state employees for their "sacrifice".

"Every dollar we save from these measures helps to save jobs, and in the long-term, maintain service for Chicagoans," he said.

"This plan engages most civilian employees to accept cuts and to be part of the solution to our budget crisis."

Two more reduced service days have been scheduled - one for 27 November, the day after Thanksgiving and another for Christmas Eve, 24 December.

Workers have also been asked to take a series of unpaid days off and holidays without salary.

Chicago is one of a number of US cities and states to introduce closures and furlough days to address deficits.

In California, which has a budget deficit of some $24.3bn (£14.5bn) and has declared a fiscal emergency, state offices have been ordered to close for three days each month.

Michigan has said it will not pay its state employees on six days up to the end of September, to save nearly $22m.

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