• Erin Hegarty
    OCT 06, 2021

    CFD, Public Safety Administration, disability office, Commission on Human Relations set to defend budgets

    Chicago Fire Department Comm. Annette Nance-Holt is set to answer questions from aldermen during her first budget hearing at the helm of the department. [Mayor's Office/ Twitter] 

    Aldermen are scheduled on Wednesday to examine next year’s proposed budgets the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities, Chicago Fire Department, Commission on Human Relations and the Office of Public Safety Administration during the ninth day of departmental budget hearings.  

    All four departments are poised to see increases in their spending for next year, and newly appointed Fire Department Comm. Annette Nance-Holt will face aldermen for the first time as the head of the department.  

    Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities 

    Funding for the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities is set for a slight jolt from just under $7.5 million in 2021 to more than $7.8 million in 2022. Under Lightfoot’s budget proposal, the office would also see a jump in full-time equivalent positions from 31 to 36 positions. 

    The office provides independent living services, reviews permits for accessibility compliance, oversees the home modification program and helps to promote and advance disability-related legislation and policies. 

    The office in 2022 plans to create the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Employment Center as a “central city resource for job seekers with disabilities and employers seeking to hire job seekers with disabilities,” according to budget documents. The center would also offer training with assistive technology, according to budget documents. 

    Next year’s budget proposal shows the addition of a “Program Director,” four “Disability Specialist[s]” and an “American Sign Language Interpreter” under the “Employment Services” division. 

    Additionally next year, leaders of the office expect to conduct “an assessment of physical and program accessibility for city departments” and establish a system to help connect people with disabilities to accessible housing. 

    The office’s budget last year remained flat while it added one building inspector position to its employee lineup.  

    Related: Coyotes, raccoons and ‘barnyard animals’ a major complaint of aldermen during animal control budget hearing 

    Chicago Fire Department 

    The Chicago Fire Department is expected to see a nearly $30.4 million spike in its spending plan next year, notching its budget up to about $776.7 million in 2022.  

    The department responsible for extinguishing fires and providing emergency services is also set to see its number of full-time equivalent positions grow by 16 positions to a 5,140-full-time equivalent department in Lightfoot’s proposed 2022 spending plan. 

    In addition to an $18.2 million increase next year in “salaries and wages” under the city’s Corporate Fund, the department is poised to see a $7 million spike in its overtime budget, notching it up to $45 million. The proposed 2022 overtime spending is still below 2020’s expenditure of just under $82.8 million. 

    Fire department officials next year plan to upgrade cardiac monitors for all “advanced-life saving devices,” expand training and “multi-agency exercise opportunities,” offer more Crisis Intervention Team training and develop Chicago’s alternative 911 emergency response program, according to budget documents.  

    The department also expects to “enhance” its training programs to “emphasize” the fire department’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Leaders of the City Council Latino Caucus have said they are prioritizing racial parity in this year’s budget as they have not seen action following promises of diversity and inclusion. 

    Related: Latino Caucus leaders to prioritize economic recovery, racial parity in 2022 budget 

    Aldermen in June approved Lightfoot’s appointment (A2021-60) of Nance-Holt as the first Black woman to lead the department. Nance-Holt replaced former Comm. Richard Ford II, who this year turned 63 — the mandatory fire department retirement age set by state law. 

    Ford during last year’s budget hearing told aldermen the fire department was expecting to see an uptick in retirements this year after department employees received “retro checks” for back pay from a one-year contract the city and Chicago Firefighters Union ratified in 2020. 

    Ford urged aldermen last year to codify a timeline that would mandate regular recruitment exams via a city ordinance.  

    Related: Pass an ordinance on recruitment exams to help diversify fire department, commissioner tells aldermen 

    Commission on Human Relations 

    The Commission on Human Relations stands to grow its budget from $2.8 million to more than $2.9 million under Lightfoot’s 2022 budget proposal. The commission’s full-time equivalent employee count is set to remain flat at 19. 

    A “Director/Community Liaison” position previously funded under the commission’s “Advisory Council on Equity” is not included in the commission’s 2022 spending plan. 

    The commission adjudicates discrimination complaints, helps victims of hate crimes and “mediates community conflicts,” according to budget documents.  

    Through July 30 of this year, the commission completed 18 percent more investigations compared to the first seven months of 2020 and closed 25 percent more cases than it had in the previous year. Additionally, the commission saw a 52 percent increase in new discrimination complaint filings during the same time period, according to budget documents.  

    The commission also established the Committee on Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate Crimes in 2021.  

    Next year, the human rights commission plans to develop an online system for people to file complaints in an effort to make the process “easier and allow underserved communities to have increased access to the discrimination complaint process,” according to budget documents. The system currently requires people to download and scan forms. 

    The commission is also planning to hold a “Human Relations Summit” to bring together “human rights advocates, government, educators, and the public to discuss and development strategies to address issues of hate and discrimination,” budget documents show.  

    Office of Public Safety Administration 

    Under Lightfoot’s proposed 2022 budget, the Office of Public Safety Administration’s budget would see a $37 million hike in funding, bringing its proposed 2022 spending to $172.9 million. Lightfoot’s spending plan also proposes increasing the office’s full-time equivalent employee count by four, to 354 positions.  

    The office is tasked with overseeing finance, contracts, grants, facilities, personnel management, information technology and medical issues for the city’s public safety departments. 

    Under the 2022 budget proposal, the office would see a more than $10 million increase in “contractual services,” including a nearly $8.2 million spike in spending on “rental of equipment and services.” 

    The public safety administration office next year is also projected to spend $3.6 million — up from $863,000 this year — on the federal consent decree with the Chicago Police Department, budget documents show. Additionally, the office is set to add two “project manager” positions with salaries of $101,532 each under the Joint Public Safety Training Academy.  

    So far this year, the office has transferred 65 sworn police officer responsibilities to civilians and expects that number to increase to 85 positions by the end of the year, budget documents show. 

    Public safety administration leaders will likely be grilled on the city’s controversial contract with ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection technology company. Aldermen took turns during a Monday budget hearing on the Chicago Police Department asking questions about the contract despite it falling under the Office of Public Safety Administration.  

    Related: ShotSpotter contract, officer shortages come under microscope during 9-hour CPD budget hearing  

    The public safety administration office next year plans to consolidate vehicle purchase and lease plans to reduce the number of public safety vehicles under lease, according to budget documents. The office also plans to improve the way it analyzes attrition “to better predict staffing shortages and overtime challenges throughout all public safety departments,” according to budget documents. 


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