Another Year, Another Mayoral Budget Veto


A year ago Mayor Dave Schmidt cast what is believed to be the first-ever mayoral budget veto.  At that time, Schmidt was criticized by some of the business-as-usual crowd for vetoing the entire budget rather than undertaking a painstaking line-item veto; and his veto was over-ridden by a 5 (Alds. Allegretti, Bach, Carey, Ryan and Wsol) to 2 (Alds. DiPietro and Sweeney) majority, with three votes against over-ride needed to sustain the veto.

Tonight the City Council will vote on whether to sustain or over-ride Schmidt’s line-item veto of 72 line items totaling approx. $650,000 – items chosen by Schmidt after consulting with City Staff about what additional cuts could be made with the least adverse impact on essential services and infrastructure in order to reduce or eliminate the budgeted 5% increase in the City’s portion of our real estate tax bill.

We haven’t seen a Vegas line yet, but we’re willing to wager a crisp $1 bill that the vast majority, if not all, of Schmidt’s line-item vetoes will be over-ridden in one of the last official acts taken by this particular Council that always seemed to talk the fiscal-conservative talk but then chose to walk the tax-and-spend walk.  We can only hope the incoming crew is better, especially considering how low the current Council set the bar.

Festivities start at 7:30 p.m. at 505 Butler Place.

On a related note, an article in last week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate reported that between 50 and 60 ash trees will be cut down in the next few weeks, the victims of the Emerald Ash Borer (“City to begin ash tree removal,” April 13).  The cutting and stump removal is expected to cost the City between $66,000 and $84,000, according to City Forester Tony Gliot. 

But that’s only the beginning. Gliot expects that most of the remaining 2,000+ ash trees will be removed over the course of the next 5 years because of Emerald Ash Borer infestation.  That’s another $2.8 million, or about $560,000 a year over that period.  And that doesn’t include the cost of replacing those mature ash trees, even with comparative saplings. 

Forester Gliot warns that this Ash Borer infestation will “hurt the entire urban forest…for many years to come,” thereby changing the “character” of our Tree City, USA community.  And, we would add, not for the better.  

Which raises the question of whether trees – which provide beauty, shade, air cleaning and that “character” Gliot talks about – should be considered part of our “infrastructure,” like sewers, streets, sidewalks, water, etc.  If so, should their maintenance (i.e., trimming) be given infrastructure-like priority, assuming the City gives “priority” to any infrastructure? 

Oh, by the way: the 2011-12 City budget adopted by the City Council (and vetoed by Mayor Schmidt) cut back on tree trimming, from the proposed $620,000 t0 $340,000; and on tree planting budget, from the proposed $105,000 to $0.

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1 comment so far

Your idea to treat trees as an infrastructure element is absolutely accurate. I won’t waste time highlighting the acres of information on how trees do everything from filtering airplane air pollution to reducing crime and improving property values; the info is widely available online.

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