“Hopelessly Flawed” Budget Unworthy Of Park Ridge Taxpayers


The Park Ridge City Council has voted to pass a budget which Mayor Dave Schmidt has described as “hopelessly flawed” and has said he will veto.  

The reasons Schmidt cites for that conclusion are many, including his belief that City Mgr. Jim Hock’s revenue projections are seriously overestimated, as they were – by a whopping $2.1 million – for the current budget year; and the budget’s failure to address the $936,000 reduction in state tax revenue sharing that Gov. Pat Quinn already proposed, and that state rep. Rosemary Mulligan already warned the Council about.  

Schmidt also takes issue with the $165,000 budgeted to battle O’Hare Airport, especially the hiring of a lobbyist at $105,000 which he called “a colossal waste of money.  And he questions how the Council could justify cutting personnel from the City’s police, fire and public works departments but then donate $186,000 of public funds to private community organizations, with no strings attached.  

We agree with Schmidt.  This budget, like last year’s and the year before that, is unworthy of the taxpayers who pay for City government and deserve better.  

Which is why we hope the Mayor will veto the whole damned thing – because simply cutting some line item expenses here and some there won’t address structural defects like Hock’s inflated revenue estimates.  But anything that displays some sense of fiscal reality and restraint, even line item vetoes, will be a welcome change from the irresponsible tax and spend mentality of the aldermen who outnumber him around The Horseshoe.  

To get a real sense of the intellectual deficiencies on display last Saturday prior to the passage of this “hopelessly flawed” budget, we strongly encourage you to watch the meeting video posted both on the City’s website and on Park Ridge Underground.

Meanwhile, we’ll give you a taste from both the video and from quotes in yesterday’s on-line Park Ridge Herald-Advocate article (“Park Ridge mayor promises veto of ‘hopelessly flawed’ budget,” April 20)…with our comments, of course (in bracketed bold): 

“When you are laying off people and seriously affecting their lives and then turning around and giving money to community groups that will survive without donations, I think that is not right,” [1st Ward Ald. Joe] Sweeney said. [Not only is it “not right,” it’s irresponsible public policy and only encourages those organizations to remain dependent on handouts from  various governmental bodies rather than on voluntary contributions from donors who may actually believe in those organizations, their missions, and their management. Or does that explain the need for all the government handouts?] 

Fifth Ward Ald. Robert Ryan: “I want [the City Manager] to look for how you can outsource public works, even fire [protection].” [So you can throw $165,000 of our tax money at a no-win fight against O’Hare, or $186,000 at various private community organizations that don’t have to account to the City or the taxpayers for how they spend that money, or even on whether they spend it for the benefit of Park Ridge residents?] 

“[This budget] is both fiscally and socially irresponsible,” 2nd Ward Ald. Don Bach said. [How is it “socially irresponsible”? What “social” activities are the taxpayers supposed to fund through our City taxes?] 

“It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we can do,” said 4th Ward Ald. Jim Allegretti. [That pretty much identifies the main problem with this City Council.] 

“I hate a lot of pieces of this budget. I hope the mayor will look to his ability to exercise veto in certain areas,” said 7th Ward Ald. Frank Wsol. [So why did you wimp out and vote for it?]

And the last word, coming from Allegretti while arguing to close debate and approve the budget: “If we can’t come to an agreement on what [the budget] means, shame on us.” [Exactly!]