Choosing Private Organizations Over Police And City Services (Updated 07.20.10)


A few months ago, when the City Council was putting together its 2010-11 budget, Mayor Dave Schmidt warned about the financial risks to the City of expecting a continuation of tax dollars from the State of Illinois.  He asked City Mgr. Jim Hock and the Council to come up with some contingency cuts in anticipation of some or all of that State money not coming in, or not coming in when needed. 

Despite warnings from both State Sen. Dan Kotowski (D) and State Rep. Rosemary Mulligan (R) that Governor Quinn was serious about cutting money to municipalities, and despite the State already being months behind in its income tax revenue sharing with Park Ridge (and other municipalities around the State) for 2010, Hock and a majority of the City Council chose to ignore that issue, with Hock suggesting the City could wait until we saw what the situation was in July.

Well, it’s now July 19th, and we still don’t have any more of that State income tax revenue – nor is the State giving us any clear assurances of when, or even if, it will show up. 

Under such uncertain circumstances, we would expect that sound money management would dictate that Hock and the Council would have begun discussing specific additional cuts that cut be implemented if State funding remains delayed.  But according to Hock (as reported in the latest issue of the Park Ridge Herald-Advocate): “It’s not fruitful to discuss what you might cut and then try to lobby your legislators and say, ‘We need this money.’”

Gee, Jim, is it “fruitful” to sit on your hands and continue to spend money the City doesn’t have, as if the State cash is already on its way from Springfield?  Is it “fruitful” to put the City at increasing risk of a full-blown finanical crisis?

Not surprisingly, Hock’s comments come just as the City Council is preparing to finalize the release of one-half of the $190,000 of taxypayer-funded handouts to the various private community groups who claim they provide “essential” services to the community – services which those organizations have consistenly failed (or refused) to document as specifically going to Park Ridge residents, and at what cost. 

At the last COW meeting Hock acknowledged that the City has laid off approximately 27 employees over the past 2 years purely for financial reasons.  Four of those employees were police officers laid off just this year.  Two of those police officers could have been retained for just a shade more than that $190,000 being given away to those community groups.  

So when a Council majority (we’re betting it’s made up of Alds. Allegretti, Bach, Carey, DiPietro and Ryan) votes tonight to approve the immediate payment of 50% of the amounts budgeted for the community groups – $95,000, or about the cost of one cop – rather than waiting until more State funding comes in and seeing whether (and by how much?) the City has overspent its revenues during the first quarter of the new budget year, they will be sending a clear and unequivocal message to the taxpayers:

All of those community organizations are more important to them than whatever security was formerly provided by 2 police officers, and more important than the various City services that have been eliminated or reduced.

Update (07.20.10)  Despite the presence of representatives from several of the community groups looking for their annual handouts, a decision was deferred to the August City Council meeting at the request of two aldermen (believed to be Alds. Allegretti and Bach), presumably because Alds. Carey and Ryan were absent.

5 comments so far

I read an article last week that reported revenues (i.e. read taxes)for most states around the country are down from last year. The only states with an increase were states that had increased taxes. It is highly likely that Illinois’s tax collections are also down and probably by more than the average. How about we discuss that fact tonight before spending money we don’t have. City Council members I urge you to take your head out the sand. I strongly urge my Alderman to wake up and be prepared to discuss the details of just where are we with respect to the current revenue vs spending. Mr. Hock needs to come with answers–no delays on this issue.

4th Ward Resident, good ideas but you’re wasting your time on the dunce representing you. That guy would have given more money to the OAC and community groups if he could have gotten away with it.

You can tell that they are pushing this ahead now, so they can get at least some of this moeny in the community groups’ hands before Hock has to report the first quarter performance numbers that show the city sucking the tailpipe.

I agree with my 4th ward neighbor.
Until or unless we get back our income tax money from the State of Illinois — who graciously promised to send it back once it was garnished from our paychecks — nobody on the City Council should be approving any expenditures. The money just ain’t there.
BTW Gov. Quinn surely expects, if re-elected, to increase our income taxes from 3% to 4%. In other words, get ready to have another three days’ pay garnished from your paycheck starting Jan. 1, 2011.

Watch the video of the last COW meeting and listen (at 1:20:10) to Ryan minimizing this cost by talking about it as “1/2 of one percent” of the budget.

No, Mr. Ryan, its $190,000 or (as PW points out) the cost of almost 2 of the 4 police officers that the city just laid off. THat kind of description is misleading and you know it.

At the last COW meeting even Hock finally figured it out when he said that maybe the city needs contracts with these groups instead of giving them money for “what it is that you think they’re providing to to the city.” THe trouble is nobody on the council knows or cares what we’re getting for that $190,000, and that’s outrageous.

I promise to support, campaign and vote for anyone who comes forward in the 4th ward who merely is more coherent, shows some inkling of financial common sense, and who doesn’t say the public is incapable of making tough decisions. All one has to do to win in this ward is make a list of the current Alderman’s famous quotes from council meetings. It will be hard for him to back away from his quotes caught on tape.

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


(optional and not displayed)