Oak Park budget talks touch on pensions, director position
Updated: September 24, 2012 7:04AM
Oak Park —
The village’s various pension funds — police, fire and IMRF — and its general funds were the main focus of a 2013 budget discussion Monday night.
Oak Park’s Finance Committee discussed a draft of the 2013 budget Monday. As it stands, Oak Park’s budget is tentatively set for $51.55 million.
Interim Village Manager Cara Pavlicek led the board through the 165-page draft budget plan.
“I want to express that this is a draft,” Pavlicek said Monday. “All texts can be edited.”
Further budget discussion will take place during the remainder of August, September and October.
A formal presentation of the budget is scheduled for Oct. 15.
Retired fireman and 37-year Oak Park resident George Lazewski Monday night expressed his concerns for the fire pension fund.
“A five-year overview is a necessity,” Lazewski said. “We need to look at the ratio between active firemen and retired ones and ask ourselves where we will be in the future.”
Lazewski also expressed gratitude to the village for painting 300 fire hydrants in Oak Park.
New to this year’s budget proposal will be the concept that, by the end of the fiscal year, 99 percent of revenue will be spent, allowing for small growth in the village’s fund balance, Pavlicek said.
“We shouldn’t necessarily have a budget that we expect to spend every penny of,” Village President David Pope said.
Trustee Bob Tucker also expressed the importance of a having a road-map for the future. Although Pavlicek agreed, but had reservations about mainly focusing on the future.
“The future is important, however, getting the best possible basic structure is key,” she said. “We do this by looking at our past.”
A new Community and Economic Developer Director position authorized by the 2012 budget was also discussed Monday. There was disagreement over the position’s responsibilities.
Pavlicek suggested the director work with and have oversight of multiple departments and people.
“If you want a good economic director, you must have someone with expertise in understanding planning, zoning, building permits and more,” Pavlicek said. “However, you also need someone to give the proper time needed and be able to lead a team.”
Trustee John Hedges agreed, but also expressed his desire to have an economic specialist focused on spending time in the field.
“We have been expecting a specialist, however, if a person can balance their responsibilities between themselves and a team, that could be better,” Pope said.
Pavlicek stressed many parts of the draft budget need more attention, including grant funds, transfers, insurance and parking funds.