November 17, 2011

Mayor Emanuel Announces City has Recovered Over $1 Million of Debt Owed to the City by City and Sister Agency Employees

Increased accountability across City departments and enforcement of existing City policies is helping to realize the goals outlined the 2012 budget

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

During a meeting with Commissioners to outline standards for implementing the 2012 budget, Mayor Emanuel announced today that through increasing accountability across City departments and sister agencies and stepping up enforcement of existing City policies, the City has recovered over $1 million of the debt owed to the City by City department and sister agency employees in just five weeks.

In the past five weeks, the percentage of City employees with outstanding debt to the City has decreased by 5% from 7.1% of the City workforce to 2.3%; in the same time period, the percentage of sister agency employees with outstanding debt to the City has also decreased, by 2% from 8% of the workforce to 6%.

“City government must put the taxpayer before the city payroll. When people across Chicago are working hard to make ends meet, it simply is not acceptable that City employees have $3 million in outstanding debt owed to the city’s taxpayers,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This is encouraging progress, but there is still more to do.”

City government on average collects $16 million to $18 million per year of owed funds; this year increased accountability is putting the City on track to collect $30 million.

Employees were informed by their department leadership of their outstanding debt and were asked to comply immediately with the City’s personnel debt policy.  It is a violation of the City’s Municipal code (Personnel Rule XVIII) for any City or sister agency employees to owe the City debt. Currently, employees have seven to 30 days to pay outstanding debts in full or voluntarily enroll in a payroll deduction agreement, which can last up to 12 months.

The Departments of Revenue and Law have increased their pursuit of involuntary payroll deductions for the most egregious cases of outstanding debt collection. Comptroller Ahmad notified City departments and sister agencies of debt owed by their employees and will continue to do so every quarter. The Comptroller has received progress reports from City department and sister agency heads each week and these weekly reports are posted online at

In a letter to City department and sister agency leadership at the beginning of October, the Mayor stated, “It is expected that you will make every effort to ensure your employees come into compliance by paying the debt in full or entering into a payment plan by October 31, 2011.”

Within a week of the Mayor’s order, over 1,210 employees had been brought into compliance by either paying their debts in full or entering into a payment plan. As of November 11, 19 of the 36 City departments had zero employees who were not in compliance with employee debt policies, compared with only three of 36 at the start of October.

Failure of an employee to come into compliance could result in discipline, up to and including discharge.  For City employees, the following could be used in administering discipline for non-compliance:


Past-Due Amount                                           Disciplinary Action

$1,000 and over                                              Discharge
$ 500 to $1,000                                               29-day suspension
$ 250 to $   500                                               15-day suspension
Below    $   250                                                10-day suspension


chart showing employee debt

Click to see a chart of employee debt by department and sister agency.