Oak Park trustees debate use of salt savings
Updated: November 2, 2012 4:18PM
OAK PARK — The reallocation of $30,000 in public works savings and the hiring of a new economic development director dominated discussion during a Oak Park Village Board special meeting.
Trustees met Thursday and will continue budget discussions at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5 at Village Hall. The public budget discussions are expected to be completed on Nov. 26, with the final budget to placed before the board for a vote on Dec. 10.
Interim Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said 2013 is a maintenance budget, “a pay as you go budget.”
The village saved $30,000 in its salt use, partially because a milder winter earlier this year meant it used roughly half of the 5,000 tons of salt typically ordered and because of its policy of using salt only on main roads. Public Works Director John Wielebnicki told trustees Thursday the savings may be even higher.
“Some towns hit every street, but I’m not sure that’s something we want to do,” he said.
As the conversation turned to the removal and replacement of dead and diseased trees in the village’s common areas, trustees debated using the $30,000 salt savings for the forestry program. The board has made tree removal and replacement a priority, wanting the process for any one site to be completed within two planting cycles.
Wielebnicki said he believed diverting the $30,000 to forestry would be good for the village, because trees are a readily visible symbol of the work of village government.
“I think streets, trees, those are huge things,” he said.
About $600,000 was allocated for tree removal and replacement in 2012, which was reduced to $500,000 in the proposed 2013 budget. Village President David Pope said about 600 spots throughout the village need to be planted or replanted, but the budget covers only about 400.
Though Trustee Bob Tucker suggested the board allocate the $30,000 immediately to forestry, other trustees preferred more time to decide whether there were other more pressing issues.
“I’m fine with bringing it back for discussion,” Pope said. “But if we bring it back for discussion, the answer should be ‘Yes.’”
Pavlicek Thursday also proposed the addition of a community and economic director.
Some trustees expressed concern with setting in place a new structure and hiring a director before a permanent village manager is hired, since he or she may have different organizational wants or needs. However, it was determined that at proposed funding levels, that position would not be filled until March 2013, at the earliest.
Several trustees agreed that putting off a decision will further delay the setting and implementation of village economic development goals.