The Forest Park Village Council voted for a new roof on village hall, Monday night, awarding the contract for $179,000 to Glenbrook Group Inc. of Northbrook. Commissioner Chris Harris asked for a delay to look into grant money for green roof options such as a garden roof (up to $200,000 more) or solar panels (up to $50,000 more). But Village Administrator Tim Gillian said the need for a roof had been pressing for a year and that village lobbyist Matt O’Shea had not been able to unearth any grant funding to assist with green construction.
“Don’t we already get our electricity for free?” asked Commissioner Mark Hosty. “Why should we pay to save electricity we get for free?” Harris suggested the electricity could be “returned to the grid.” Nonetheless, the council voted 4-1 to accept the bid. Harris voted nay.
Village seizes thousands in scofflaw tax refunds
Some traffic scofflaws discovered to their dismay this April that the village of Forest Park took a bite out of their state tax refund to pay off unpaid parking tickets.
Mayor Anthony Calderone told the council the village had worked with a cross-checked list of scofflaws through the Illinois Comptroller’s office. The Local Debt Recovery Program intercepts taxpayers’ refunds if they have outstanding parking violations or have not made arrangements to pay them.
The village received $362,000 in tax refund money, Calderone said.
“There’s definitely been some upset people,” Calderone told the council. “Apparently there were some state workers who failed to pay parking tickets in Forest Park and they found out the state was garnishing their wages,” he said. “We got a lot of calls about that. But we tell them, it’s not what we’re doing; it’s what you failed to do [pay parking tickets].”
Participatory budgeting 2.0
Commissioner Chris Harris announced he would extend his experiment in participatory budgeting to the Internet by posting the village budget online and in social media prior to the 10 a.m., May 15 village budget meeting. Last April, Harris hosted a participatory budget workshop at the library the month before the meeting. Harris said last year he wanted citizen input in prioritizing budget items for village public property. A handful of people came to the library meeting last April, and Harris said he was putting the information online so “people don’t have to leave their house.”
Last June, bickering broke out among commissioners at the early June budget meeting when Commissioner Rory Hoskins pointed out that he and two other commissioners did not receive an entire budget binder.
“I’ve been here for six years, and I’ve never started a budget meeting with less information than any other commissioner or any other person sitting in the room,” Hoskins told Commissioner Mark Hosty after voices were raised. With a copy of the budget online beforehand, the information should be transparent, Harris hopes.