Time for another update on the recent board meeting of December 3rd. Overall, from a functioning professional standpoint it may have been the best meeting that this board has had since I took office. The first thing we did was honor four police officers that heroically saved a young man from jumping off of the parking deck at Marcus Theaters. Job well done to officers Kelly-Vallan, Sallucca, Legris, and Folliard.
I pulled an item off the consent agenda regarding chimney repairs because it hadn’t gone out for bid and was above that threshold. I found out the reason was because it was originally determined that it was maintenance and the cost was $18,000. Contracting later told Public Works that this work was covered by prevailing wage laws. Since prevailing wage applied, the contract grew to $31,500. Just to be clear we paid the same contractor $13,500 more for the same work. This was a $13,500 bonus to their workers who were happily employed for the amount they were paid for the $18,000 contract. To reiterate – we the taxpayers, paid bonus money of $13,500 to employees that happily and willingly did the work for $13,500 less because we were forced to by state law.
We also discussed and solved the Pace Bus issue. The process of doing this is an outstanding example of good government. Staff initially identified the loss of over $150,000 with this program and that the program was duplicative with other programs. Upon notifying riders, the riders indicated that some of their needs could not be met with these other programs. Staff investigated and worked to solve the problem. They identified several options as well as a less costly option that the Village could operate for less than $30,000. The Village is moving forward with this option that saves over $100,000 annually and ensures that none of the riders “fall through the cracks”. Thank you to the residents who took the time to speak to the board and kudos to the Village Board and staff for listening and solving the problem.
Additionally, we passed the annual budget. We did so without raising taxes (other than making the hotel tax 5% from 4% to match all of our surrounding neighbors) or major service cuts. The 2019 operational budget is $4M less than the 2018 operational budget. These reductions also keep our reserve balance financially healthy through 2023. Also, our property tax rate is 11.5% less than the previous year!
During this discussion, I pointed out that we have done an excellent job, but we still have more to do. For example, we spend over $400,000 annually maintaining the landscaping on LaGrange Road and it is part of our capital budget. This should be part of our operating budget, and in 2019 I plan to ensure that it is. This means that we will need to find at least another $400,000 of annual savings in the operating budget. It also means that we will have $400,000 more money in the capital budget for fixing/updating parks and streets.
Now for the bad news, though it doesn’t come from the Village of Orland Park, it comes from the State of Illinois. This week the legislature overrode several vetoes. Generally, these new laws make it easier for certain government employees to pension spike and make more people eligible for the lavish pensions that are bankrupting the state. Additionally, a few of them issued mandates to municipalities, overruling their home rule power. Essentially the state is trying to lord over cities, towns and villages and is continuing to make the pension problem worse rather than solving it. I am afraid this is the harbinger of things to come. I am telling you this, because it has and will continue to impact the Village of Orland Park’s finances. To date, we have weathered the storm, but if a solution to the pension debacle is not implemented, and state lawmakers keep “kicking the can down the road”, the Village and its residents will eventually face very difficult choices – raise taxes or cut services.
I will continue to work hard on Orland Park’s economic growth which is one way we can fend off the implications of the state’s mismanagement. However, all of us need to continue to pressure our state representatives and senators to solve the pension crisis as the Village of Orland Park has no control over the costs of the public sector pensions.
A reminder that I am hosting a fundraiser celebrating the accomplishments over my first 18 months. Tickets are $50 and sponsorships are available. If you attend, please bring a Christmas Toy as a donation for the Holidays to help families in need! I will also be introducing the candidates that I will be endorsing in the upcoming election. Please come out and meet the candidates!
Finally, I am always willing to come speak to HOA associations, book clubs, etc. and answer questions about what is going on in the Village. I have done this several times over the last 18 months and the events are well received and very informative.