The Forest Park Village Council voted Monday to borrow $1.8 million from Forest Park National Bank to pay for the replacement of all streetlights, alley lights and traffic lights in Forest Park with low-wattage LED bulbs.

The village’s 1,200 fixtures will be replaced starting this fall, according to Village Administrator Tim Gillian.

At Monday’s meeting, the village approved a contract with Meade Electric, Inc. of suburban McCook. According to company representative Michael Knutson, the company will order the new fixtures for the lights and start installation between December 1 and January 31.

The village hopes to capture $400,000 in grant money from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for energy efficient projects completed between spring 2012 and February 2013. According to the speakers Monday night, the net saving to the village by using less energy for streetlights will be around $8,000 the first year and almost $200,000 total over 10 years.

Over the summer, the council heard several presentations from a consortium of engineers, finance experts and installation specialists, who offered to bundle the project together quickly enough to capture the state grant money by the deadline.

But the village unbundled the tasks when it discovered it could borrow money for the project cheaper from a local bank. The interest on the 10-year loan will be no greater than 3.5 percent, according to village board documents.

By finishing quickly the village is eligible for the additional incentive from the Illinois DCEO, the consortium told commissioners.

A free energy audit of all of the lights in the village was performed over the summer by an umbrella agency called LumQuest. The design and engineering of the project will be handled by a group called Global Services International. Four different light fixtures will be installed by Meade, depending on the type they’re replacing.

The motion to borrow money and to contract with Meade passed unanimously, but Commissioner Rory Hoskins pointed out that the village sacrificed putting the project out for a bid because of the small time window necessary to capture additional grant money.

Mayor Anthony Calderone told the council and audience that “the village has taken an absolute step in the right direction.

“There’s no doubt that our raw energy costs will go down and LEDs have so much more life expectancy,” he said.

Refinancing government bonds

Also Monday, the village council gave the go-ahead to consultants Kane, McKenna Associates to try to refinance some of its government obligation bonds that are coming due.

“We should see a significant savings over the life of the bonds,” said Village Administrator Tim Gillian.

Village/union negotiations ‘amiable’

Also Monday, the village council approved a three-year agreement with the AFSCME union of public employees. Gillian described the negotiations as “extremely amiable.”

Modest salary raises were part of the agreement: full time employees will receive raises of $.30 per hour in 2012, $.40 per hour in 2013 and $.21 per hour in 2014. Part time employees will see their salaries rise from $14.97 per hour to $15.42 in 2014.

The most highly paid village union worker is clerk Sue Bothie who has worked at the village for 28 years and earns $61,402.

In the negotiations, the split of health insurance costs remained the same. Union members will continue to pay 10 or 12 percent of health insurance costs depending on the specific plan they choose. However, Gillian said the union also agreed that if police and fire unions agree to a higher percentage employee insurance contribution, AFSCME members will match it.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...