On April 22, at the Village Council meeting, the Commissioners and Mayor were given the opportunity to vote to approve a salary ordinance wage increase of 2% for fiscal year 2019 and hire for a vacant position in the Village of Forest Park Public Works Department.
I voted NO and I think the residents deserve to hear why.
The council was asked to vote on the salary ordinance which included a 2% raise for staff across the board. In less than three weeks our new elected officials start their four year term. Part of their obligation, responsibility and promise to Forest Park residents will be maintaining our financial sustainability. Their meaningful impact should be considered and the Village Administrator and department heads should present their case/justification for the increase in expenses within the budget the elected officials will oversee for the next four years. Our new Council should have the opportunity to “help make the bed” and not just have to settle for “sleeping in it”.
Based on my previous experience on the Council, this raise ordinance has not gone into effect until after the start of our fiscal year and an evaluation of our current financial state has been assessed. I am not a fan of a blanket raise increase across the board. I believe in merit based raises and formal evaluations of staff members. Reward those who excel. Government practices this day and age should mirror best business practices. A 2% raise for the Village Administrator and department heads does not compare in take home funds to a front line staff member. We should determine a pool dollar amount within the operational budget and reward those who are the most impactful and doing their best for our Village. After all that is what we all want, the best for Forest Park.
The Council was also asked to waive the hiring freeze for a Public Works position that was officially vacated in March. This request for approval came without a job posting nor any formal process of recruitment, interviewing, or hiring. Our current form of government allows the Director of Public Works and Commissioner of Public Property with the support of the Village Administrator to “hand pick” any individual to this position circumventing a fair or best practice hiring process.
I am a firm believer that it is crucial that when positions become available that we find the best fit and most deserving candidate to serve our Village. Their selected candidate may be the best and most qualified, but without a fair process allowing for opportunity, interviews or a promotion from within—how would we know?
I would 100% support the filling of this position and/or future Village of Forest Park employment opportunities if and when appropriate hiring steps are taken to find the best candidate for the job internally or externally. Best government practices are key! In addition, to what I feel is a lack of transparency, it is void of good business practices.
I encourage residents to follow my Facebook Page Citizens for Daniel Novak. I made a promise to continue my open door policy for my second term and I want to make sure residents know I am accessible and available to answer questions.
Daniel J. Novak
Village Commissioner of Forest Park