A proposal to institute a moratorium on permit fees for garage construction this summer is a gesture by the village council that could only make sense during an election year. But there are no local elections to be concerned with in 2008, and we’re left to scratch our heads over this potentially harmful precedent.

The plan, as discussed during the May 27 council meeting, is to waive the price of a construction permit in the interest of spurring property owners to rehab or replace their dilapidated storage spaces. The timing of this waiver – a vote is expected on June 9 – would also benefit a trio of residents whose garages were recently damaged by fire. According to the municipal department that issues these permits, the price of a typical garage increases by $145 as a result of this permit.

It’s ludicrous to think that someone who is considering investing thousands of dollars into their property would be deterred by a permit that costs $145. Commissioner Mike Curry, however, said that in waiving the fee Forest Park will see a “10-fold” increase in the revenues that would have been generated by the fee through increased property taxes. Commissioner, we look forward to reviewing those numbers with you.

Only a year ago department administrators recommended to the council that fees collected by the building department need to be increased. The proposed budget for 2009 includes not a single fee increase within the building department. One need only look at the uproar created by the recent and sudden spike in liquor license fees for a reminder of what happens when a prudent, measured approach is ignored.

Perhaps most important though, is the issue of cash flow. Department administrators and council members alike have tied the village’s budget shortfalls to the staggered nature in which revenue is collected. The proposed budget for the new fiscal year relies on a very thin margin. Cutting further into the village’s cash flow simply runs counter to responsible governance.

An aversion to accountability

Appalling and sloppy behavior has unfortunately become par for the course for administrators and school board members in the Proviso Township high school district. The mismanagement of public funds, the family and friends employment program and a generally abysmal classroom experience have been documented in this newspaper, and often. As frustrated as parents and taxpayers ought to be, they should not be surprised when things run afoul in this district.

Nor should we.

Superintendent Robert Libka confirmed recently that the district cut a check for $100,000 to be rid of a former superintendent. That revelation came after Libka had denied this newspaper’s repeated requests for transparency in its financial dealings. Libka offered no plausible explanation for this about face, though it is he – with advice from an attorney – who denied our requests.