Township Board: Deputy clerk appointed as clerk to fill out remainder of term

Jessie Molloy, Freelance Reporter
4:58 am CDT May 20, 2019

The Homer Township Board of Trustees took action May 13 to name a replacement clerk, filling the vacancy left by the departure of Linsey Sowa last month.

After deliberating in closed session, the board chose to appoint Kathy Kruczek to fill out the remainder of Sowa’s term. Kruczek is the wife of board Trustee John Kruczek and was appointed to the newly created role of deputy clerk in February. The position was created during a prolonged absence by Sowa, which at the time the board believed she would return from. 

The deputy clerk position is unpaid and allowed Kruczek to take Sowa’s place at bid openings and to fulfill other duties, such as the creation of meeting minutes and other Township documents. 

Supervisor Pam Meyers said that since the clerk is not a voting position, the Township’s lawyer has stated there is no legal conflict of interest appointing the spouse of a trustee to the role. 

It is currently unclear if the board will move forward in appointing a new deputy clerk. Kruczek will serve as clerk through the remainder of Sowa’s term, which ends in May 2021, and will be able to choose at that time whether or not she will run for her own full term.

No further details have been given as to the reason for Sowa’s resignation. According to Meyers, Sowa’s letter of resignation said only that “she felt she was unable to continue in the role due to personal reasons.” 

Video recording meetings 

Electors at the Annual Town Meeting in April voted to “demand the board hire out, or make arrangements to video record the monthly Township meetings, as well as any special meetings for easy access from the Township website.” 

Despite the request that this change begin with the May monthly meeting, no cameras were present in an official capacity from the board, though one resident in attendance did record the proceedings with a personal camera. 

“There is no rule that says members of the public can’t tape a meeting,” Meyers said. “Anyone is welcome to do so. We are still investigating our options for recording the meetings officially, but we have not had much time to do so.”

Meyers pointed out that the electors do not have spending authority, so the resolution is considered “advisory.” 

“That’s not a negative thing, but we need board approval before we can hire anyone to create a public record,” she said. “We are not opposed to taping the meetings. We just want to do our due diligence.”

The board has reached out to other governing bodies to determine how they handle their filming and video file storage. 

Once a video of a meeting is created by the board, it becomes part of the board’s permanent record, which means the data files need to be stored somewhere other than just the Township’s YouTube channel.

“There’s this notion that once something is online, it is there forever, and while that’s somewhat true, things can get lost, in which case we need a way to back it up,” Meyers said.

While the Village of Homer Glen puts its meeting videos online, they have suffered technical difficulties with audio quality, video glitches and losing files.

Meyers said that she had spoken to Lockport City Administrator Ben Benson about the city’s system of taping its meetings and learned that Lockport pays approximately $12,000 per year in storage fees to save its videos for public record. 

Lockport Township, the only other Township in the area which records its meetings, does so through a partnership with LCTV, the local public access channel, for a donation of $500 per year. 

“I’ve been directed by the board to continue exploring our options,” Meyers said. “I hope to have more information at the next meeting.”

Tentative budgets 

Finally, the board reviewed the tentative budgets for the Township’s Administrative Funds and Road District. 

Unlike city or school district budgets, the budgets for the Township’s seven administrative funds all remain separate, so the board is unable to transfer revenues or surpluses from any one fund to pay expenses in another. 

Cumulatively, across the seven funds, the tentative budget accounts for $2.73 million in new revenues, and $6.07 million in expenditures. This discrepancy is balanced by a cumulative fund balance starting the year with $3.3 million in surplus revenue. Each fund is budgeted to have at least a small surplus at the end of the fiscal year. 

The largest of the seven funds are the Town Fund and the Park Fund. The Town Fund accounts for approximately 52 percent of the proposed expenses, with a total budget of $3.19 million. This includes $730,000 in administrative personnel costs, $200,000 in capital improvements and $472,974 to run the assessor’s office. 

The Park Fund has budgeted expenditures of $683,252, accounting for approximately 11 percent of the total Township spending. The Park Fund’s largest expenditures include $103,000 in personnel costs, $40,000 for repairs and operating supplies, and $195,000 in capital improvements.    

The Road District’s tentative budget is divided into two funds, which are also run independently of one another: The Road & Bridge Fund and the Equipment & Building Fund. 

The tentative budget for the Road and Bridge Fund proposes revenues of $3.98 million and expenditures of $5.29 million. The fund will enter the 2019-2010 Fiscal Year with a beginning balance of $1.31 million in surplus funds. 

The Equipment & Building Fund will have a beginning balance of $108,322 and budgeted revenues of $722,817 to offset the estimated $721,245 in expenditures. 

Both budgets are scheduled to hold public hearings at the June 10 meeting. The budget will take effect retroactively, as the fiscal year began on April 1,  

Holding off on windows, improvements at baseball fields [hed]

Due to the absences of Trustees Tom Fijan and Ed Kalas, the board tabled action on a contract to install new windows in Township Hall, as well as a discussion on potential improvements to the Culver Park baseball fields.

Swings installed at Morris Park 

The board reported that two new swings have been installed in Morris Park to replace old infant swings. One of the new swings is an infant swing, while the other is meant for special needs children. 

No food trucks at Morris Park 

The board voted down a proposal to allow food trucks to park at Morris Park during the Homer Soccer Club’s games. Although Fijan did not give a reason for casting the deciding “no” vote, the board had expressed some concern about the traffic safety issues the truck could pose in the already crowded parking lot.