Suburban budget cuts lead to volunteer opportunities

Many suburban communities have had budget difficulties in the last few years, leading to staffing cuts and other measures.

Naperville, Illinois, a prosperous Chicago suburb, had some similar issues. Because of some of the staffing cuts, the city is now looking for volunteers to help out at City Hall:

The pilot Municipal Volunteer Program is still accepting applications, said Community Relations Manager Nadja Lalvani, and has already drawn the interest of about a dozen people. Currently, the city is looking to fill a vacant front desk at city hall that used to be occupied by a greeter, but due to budget cuts, the position was eliminated…

The front-desk position at city hall will be the first volunteer opportunity opened to the public, Lalvani said. The greeter will be responsible for directing people to various parts of city hall, and could be trained to operate the phone switchboard in the future.

After the pilot period ends in six months, the city will evaluate the program. If all goes well, there could be more opportunities for volunteers.

Is a program like this only possible in generally well-off and well-run places like Naperville? How many citizens today would be willing to volunteer to help the local city government (as opposed to other volunteer opportunities or not volunteering at all)? Naperville does talk up its volunteer spirit so perhaps this ethos will come through and help the city fill a few positions.

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