OUR VIEW
Village hall is currently working on a plan it says will add $18,000-$20,000 to its bottom line, yearly. Village Administrator Tim Gillian wants to buy 120 parking meters, at $18,000.  He suggested that the village council OK a slight rate increase to meters near el stations (that’s where he wants to put the replacement meters).

If the council approves an ordinance, the rate for those meters will be 25 cents for 30 minutes. (Currently, the rates vary.)

Nobody likes to be hit up for more money, but, that’s a bargain. What’s more, if Gillian’s estimates are correct, the additional revenue is a major plus.

The icing in the cake, though, is that no money from the general fund will be used – a good thing because the village has to watch its pennies.

The village already has 80 meters and it will purchase the additional 120 with TIF money. This is a solid use of dollars from the Brown Street TIF and we applaud it.

Based on this year’s budget projections, the village anticipates – no, it hopes – to finish the year with a narrow surplus. That said, additional revenue is warmly welcomed, and, oftentimes, you have to spend a little money to make money.  

Is a $36K lobbyist necessary?

According to Mayor Anthony Calderone, the village came to the recent conclusion that it needed, and could afford, a $36,000-a-year lobbyist.

On Oct. 1, former Village Administrator Matt O’Shea officially started work as the village’s point person for matters affecting it in Springfield and Washington, D.C.

As Commissioners Chris Harris and Mark Hosty noted, O’Shea has plenty of connections in Springfield, and has a lot of experience with state government – he was chief of staff to state House Republican Minority Leader Tom Cross.

But, Commissioner Rory Hoskins also made a valid point when he noted that O’Shea’s closest ties are to the minority party in Springfield. In mega-dsyfunctional Springfield, the juice is with Mike Madigan, the Democratic leader and master of all he surveys.

Does Forest Park need a lobbyist, though? Calderone likes to talk about how close he is to the men and women who represent Forest Park in the General Assembly. Why the recent hire, then?

Perhaps because it helps to have boots on the ground – something Calderone and other officials can’t be expected to do while running local government and leading their own lives.

It also helps that the village has a strong relationship with O’Shea. We admired his work as the village’s second village administrator. He’s bright and approachable, and could likely be a successful lobbyist. But we also worry that this hire represents another example of the coziness that is ubiquitous in Forest Park politics.

Most critically, we are baffled by the mayor’s comment that there is no work plan for O’Shea. That “list” will be created in the months ahead, Calderone said. Well, he’s on the clock now, and hopefully officials are hard at work on a “list” of projects for him to champion.