The City Council asked Highland Park police and fire chiefs if they would be able to maintain their levels of service with fewer employees during a five-hour budget meeting Monday.
In order to meet the council's fiscal requirements for next year, City Manager David Limardi has cut 16 fulltime positions from the proposed budget.
Four of those cuts came from the police department and two from the fire department.
"We have to get a little creative," said Police Chief Paul Shafer.
Three of the cuts to the police department are officer positions, and the fourth is a community service officer. The fire department has dropped two firefighters from next year's squad.
Shafer and Fire Chief Pat Tanner assured the City Council that their departments would continue to provide the high quality of public services Highland Park residents are used to, despite the reductions.
In individual presentations at the second in a series of budget meetings, Shafer and Tanner discussed the number of service calls their departments receive annually, fluctuations in incidents and how their departments are adapting to new technology and recession constraints.
Councilman Scott Levenfeld suggested an accident reimbursement plan, which would charge the expenses incurred by the city for reacting to accidents to the person responsible for the accident.
Shafer and Mayor Michael Belsky were unsure of how fair this idea would be to city residents but didn't dismiss the suggestion.
Shafer explained that video cameras installed at some Highland Park intersections in to monitor and distribute traffic citations were a positive asset to the city's law enforcement toolbox, but finding an employee to go through the recordings was challenging.
It's very time consuming to have someone sit there and go through the tape, he said.
Chicago has approved tape-viewing privileges for unsworn police department employees in order to make the department more efficient, according to Shafer. Belsky said he would look into the possibility of writing this into Highland Park's constitution.
Fire Chief Tanner said that the calls for service since 2009 were relatively stable around 4,614 calls per year. He cited a very high false alarm rate as a contributing factor.
Tanner suggested that the city look into the possibility of outsourcing false alarm responses to a third party. Homeowners would be called by a service provider when their alarms were set off and the homeowner could decide whether they want the fire department to come to the residence.
He said that this would reduce the amount of false alarms over the long run.
The next special meeting of the City Council will take place Monday at 2:30 p.m. at City Hall.