Recess Rightly Postpones Budget Vote


Last night’s public hearing on the 2010-11 budget went on for over two hours before recessing to tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9:00 a.m., assuming that doesn’t violate State law regarding advance notice of meetings.

That procedural move was made at the suggestion of Mayor Schmidt, who sharply criticized City Mgr. Jim Hock for not posting updated budget information on the City’s website until only hours before last evening’s hearing.  The mayor correctly pointed out that residents were being badly served by such a process that seemed intended to keep them in the dark until the last minute.

The mayor is right.  It looks like Hock is playing hide-and-seek with budget figures, or he’s badly overmatched by his job.  Either way, the result is that the Council seems ready to approve a budget that is so poorly documented it causes us to wonder whether even the aldermen know exactly what it is they will be voting for.  And, amazingly, when questioned about whether the City could post a “red-lined” version of the budget that showed the changes from the version he originally proposed, Hock claimed to be unable to do so!

And we’re paying Mr. Hock almost $200,000 a year, all in, for this kind of performance?

The aldermen showed few reactions to the comments from the citizens who addressed the Council, the vast majority of whom voiced support for keeping all of our police and firemen while at the same time criticizing the $165,000 budgeted for the O’Hare Airport Commission.  So it’s hard to tell whether any minds were changed.  And Ald. Jim Allegretti was MIA altogether.

The good news about last night’s meeting is that it was SRO, with about 15 people standing out in the hallway listening to the proceedings over the sound system.  Interestingly enough, it looked like the O’Hare Airport Commission and most of the private community organizations (with the notable exception of Center of Concern) were unrepresented.

Will the Council heed the comments of the citizenry?  Tune in tomorrow, City Hall, 9:00 a.m.