By: Mark Fitzgerald THE SUN-TIMES Co. laid off 16 employees at the Chicago Sun-Times, about 1% of the newspaper's work force, and said there will likely be future reductions. Five full-time employees were laid off at the company's Pioneer Press chain of suburban community newspapers. The layoffs were made in the circulation, marketing and information technology departments at the Sun-Times. In a letter to Sun-Times employees, Sam McKeel, chief executive officer of the Sun-Times Co. and publisher of the newspaper, said "many currently unfilled positions will be eliminated." Already, 20 budgeted and open full-time positions have been eliminated at the newspaper, McKeel said. McKeel said the layoffs were not the result of the company's recent acquisition by Hollinger Inc.'s American Publishing Co. McKeel said the cuts were only a continuation of work force reduction at its newspapers in the last few years. "There are some 200 fewer positions [at the Sun-Times] than there were five years ago," McKeel wrote. "However, to assist with our restructuring," he added, "American Publishing has created a one-time fund of $10 million to help implement our severance and buyout program. This fund allows us to accelerate our staff reduction program," McKeel wrote. In a prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, American Publishing said it intended to trim and consolidate some corporate and administrative functions and that it planned "modest capital improvements" to the Sun-Times production equipment "over the near term." On March 31, American Publishing closed its $180 million cash purchase of the Sun-Times Co.'s Sun-Times newspaper and two suburban community chains, Pioneer Press and Star Newspapers.