Dozens of pending retirements may leave some Illinois Department of Natural Resources facilities short of full-time employees, officials at the state agency said.
So far, 80 of the department's 1,100 employees have filed notice they intend to retire, The State Journal-Register in Springfield reported Wednesday. DNR spokesman Chris McCloud said the department has some sites with one or two employees. McCloud says if those employees decide to retire, "then there would be nobody there."
McCloud said the department is deciding what to do if that happens.
Rep. Frank Mautino, a Democrat from Spring Valley who has worked closely with the department to develop a funding plan, told The Associated Press that even more retirements are possible. Citing DNR numbers, Mautino said 336 agency employees are eligible to retire by the end of the year. That includes the 80 who have filed notice.
Mautino doubts all would retire but expects far more than 80 will leave. Budget reductions have limited hiring at the DNR for a decade, he said, and left it with an older workforce that's heavy on employees near retirement.
Lawmakers passed a state budget last week that cuts $5 million from the department's general state tax allotment. The General Assembly didn't pass Mautino's bill, which would have raised money for state parks by adding a $2 fee to the cost of a license plate.
"There will be some tough choices if we don't get some new revenue, but we're not going to push the panic button here," McCloud said. "We think there's going to be another chance to put this forward."
Mautino said the department could be responsible for millions of dollars in unused vacation payments and retirement costs.
"That will cause some strain on their budget," Mautino said. "It makes rehiring people to fill those spots more difficult."