As state lawmakers wrangle with how to shrink a multi-billion dollar deficit, local agencies, municipalities, churches and a host of other would-be recipients are hoping Gov. Pat Quinn signs a spending plan that doles out billions for pet projects. Forest Park is no different.
“It if doesn’t go to us, it’s going to go to somebody else,” Police Chief Jim Ryan said of budgetary earmarks.
The police department is moving forward with a $250,000 renovation that would allow detectives to move into a now vacant building at 501 Desplaines Ave., located adjacent to village hall. For several years, the department has rented trailers parked behind the building to catch the overflow of employees and records that simply won’t fit anywhere else.
Forest Park’s police department is among the benefactors listed in a bill that passed both the House and Senate without opposition late last month. With the governor’s signature, Ryan would receive $200,000 in state money to pay for the project. That money would save the department from depleting an account dedicated to capital expenses, said Ryan. He expects to use the money instead to replace a vehicle on which the transmission is wearing out.
“To be honest with you, I wouldn’t have been able to buy [the detective] a car,” Ryan said of how the state money would help.
Another $125,000 in state aid is slated for “construction of a parking lot and capital improvements” in Forest Park. Exactly how that money might be used hasn’t been decided, said Commissioner Rory Hoskins, but there are several options. Council members have agreed to demolish a vacant property at 1000 Beloit and build a small park and parking lot. There is also an unfinished lot at 7418 Randolph that could see improvements. Mayor Anthony Calderone said the money would be used to improve the lot on Randolph.
Hoskins has forged relationships with a number of state legislators and is aware of the state’s budget problems. Forest Park, too, has its own financial shortcomings to manage, said Hoskins, and accepting money from the state doesn’t suddenly become a difficult decision because of problems in Springfield.
“They’re there to help us,” Hoskins said of Springfield lawmakers. “We expect to get some money from the state. I wouldn’t turn down any money from the state because of their deficit.”
Hoskins, who oversees the municipal Department of Accounts and Finance, said he did not think the windfall would have a long-term impact on the village budget, but should bring some immediate relief.
Commissioner Marty Tellalian has pushed repeatedly for council colleagues to work toward building budgetary reserves. Any influx of state money, he said, could help that cause, particularly if it allows the village to rid itself of a recurring expense like renting trailers for the police department.