CARBONDALE, Ill. — The director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says a 5 percent budget cut mandated in the recently approved state budget won’t have a major impact on his agency.
Wayne Rosenthal told The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan that his agency “can’t add anything, but we can continue to do the things we have been doing the last several years.”
Rosenthal said the majority of the agency’s general revenue fund is spent on salaries. The agency had nearly 1,270 employees in 2015, but the number was just over 1,000 earlier this year.
The depleting number of employees has already absorbed the 5 percent decrease. But Rosenthal said with many employees nearing retirement, staffing is a concern. He said if more employees aren’t eventually hired, the agency’s operations could be affected in the future.
“We have a lot of people who are eligible to retire,” Rosenthal said. “They stuck around because this is their passion. It’s a challenge that we recognize.”
Rosenthal noted there are currently between 115 to 120 conservation police officers on active duty. The officers help educate outside agencies, law enforcement organizations and educational institutions on conservation related statutes, and assist other agencies in emergency situations or rescue operations, according to the department’s website.
“We are continuing to look at a class, to try to get one in 2018, and for 2019 we will need them for sure,” he said. “In 1999 we took in a large class and a large portion of them are eligible to retire. Planning forward, in order to maintain our force, we need to look at a class.”
Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com