Village council members voted down an increase in refuse collection fees, upheld an increase in elevator inspection fees and opted to defer on a decision to increase water fees for the village during Monday’s council meeting, voting on each increase separately.
The increases, suggested by Village Administrator Michael Sturino come on the heels of a budget workshop in which Sturino suggested that some of the costs of these services should be passed on to the residents, with the understanding that the village would still maintain some of the lowest rates in the western suburbs.
In a memo to the council, Sturino pointed out that the village has not increased refuse collection fees for residents since 1994, but have been subjected to annual increases from both the refuse collection agency and the West Cook Solid Waste Agency.
“The annual tax levy amount available for other projects has been diminished to make up for the increases in rates without accompanying fee increases,” he wrote.
Currently residents pay for one-sixth of the cost of refuse collection and Sturino was recommending a 10-percent increase over this, adding less than $0.35 to the monthly fees.
Commissioner Theresa Steinbach, however, suggested that no increase should be voted on until the village completed renegotiating its contract with the refuse collection agency in six months.
Commissioner Timothy Gillian agreed.
“As you know the village levies for garbage. This council has always recognized that the village substantially subsidizes refuse collection,” he said. “I understand the need for more money, but I have to say right now we are moving forward and reserves are building.
Another unpopular point with the council was Sturino’s suggestion that the village increase its water fees, also by approximately 10 percent.
“The proposed 10-percent increase currently before the council is in line with increases absorbed by the village due to rate increases passed on by the City of Chicago Water Department,” Sturino wrote.
The increase, he added, would also help build reserves to implement the second phase of upgrades to the village’s water mains, including one proposed for Circle Avenue.
For residents, the increase would represent an additional $0.75 per month to a $15 per month bill.
Commissioner Mark Hosty, however, spoke out against the proposed increase, stating that those most affected would be the commercial water users.
Their rate would increase to $4.43 for each 100 cubic feet of water transmitted.
Doolin defended the increases, however, adding that the money generated would pay for improvements to the water mains.
If we use the money generated by this to improve the system, it can be sold to residents that the $0.75 a month is a nominal increase. That one run of water main is half a million dollars.”
Steinbach pointed out that almost no resident in town sees a $15 bill.
“Raising rates is never politically welcome,” said Mayor Anthony Calderone. “What our administrator is suggesting is that rather than wait until we really have to raise rates, that we take baby steps. As time goes on, the cost of delivering water costs more. Do you want to wait and make a large increase?”
Gillian questioned whether the increase couldn’t be made automatically each year, passing on a portion of the yearly increase from the City of Chicago, but that suggestion was admonished by Village Attorney Michael Durkin.
“You already have a dictate to look at these annually,” he told Gillian. “You have to bite the bullet sometimes and vote.”
In the end, the council decided to table the matter until more information was available.
No-go for artist
Also of note during Monday evening’s meeting was the quiet death of local artist Jeanine Guncheon’s request to waive the minimum size of a Planned Unit Development from 0.5 acres to approximately 0.35 acres in order to allow her to pursue PUD status for her upcoming development at 243 Circle Ave.
The council entertained the motion. However, it died as no commissioner would second it.
Guncheon sought the PUD status after extensive discussions with the Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission in January, March and June.
During the last Plan Commission meeting, commissioners at this body were split on recommending PUD status for Guncheon and co-developer James Robinson, Sr.
Council reappoints commission
During the meeting, the council also voted to reappoint Glenn Garlisch and Amy Rita to 2-year terms with the Fire and Police Commission.
Doolin, however, voted against the reappointments, citing ethical dilemmas.
“Amy Rita has, since her appointment, become editor and publisher of a local newspaper [The Post],” he explained, adding that the position deals with confidential information.”As for Glen [a District 91 school board member], my position has been clearly stated,” he said. “I don’t favor the appointment of elected officials to an appointed office.”
Doolin also cited an alleged Christmas bonus the pair received from a political action committee to re-elect Calderone.
“I think there are some ethical issues of receiving Christmas bonuses,” he said. “Those are supposed to be independent positions.”
Also reappointed were Susan Bale, to a 6-year term to the Library Board; Maureen Harnett, to a 4-year term to the Traffic and Safety Commission; and Al Bucholtz, to a 5-year term to the Zoning Board of Appeals.