cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Citizens Meeting Report....
The meeting, conceived and run by Jodi Kessel Lyon, was brought to order last evening precisely at 6:30PM and ran until about 8:10PM. There were some 40 residents and village officials/department heads present at the start of the meeting; 50 or more were present at the end of the meeting. Trustee Al Vanderheiden was the sole trustee present at the start of the meeting. One or two others had other commitments, and there was a scheduled Plan Commission meeting at the Village Hall. By the end of the meeting, Trustees Baum, Zabel and Ewert had come into the room and stood at the side or rear as the meeting concluded.
Several department heads were present and participated in the meeting, and Administrator Schornack was present and responded to various questions raised. He was quite careful to avoid expressing opinions since this was not a sanctioned village meeting. It was stated early-on that none of the village employees who were present were receiving payment for attending as had been alluded in postings to my earlier blog on this topic.
Washington County Supervisors Charlene Brady and Peter Sorce were present during the entire meeting and were engaged during one series of questions about compensation of trustees and supervisors.
All present were considerate of each other; there was no snickering, arguing or "stage" whispers; the questions were all valid and non-argumentative. Citizens expressed a range of concerns from more lay-offs if the budget was held to a zero increase, to the concern about any tax increase, no matter the amount. The percentages of the total property tax bill were discussed indicating that the village portion is in the range of 23% to 24% of the total tax bill. That seemed to prompt some of the attendees to think they needed to become more involved in the school district budgeting and hearing process.
Administrator Schornack advised that the four bargaining units to which he sent letters seeking discussion about changing existing contracts to a zero increase for 2010 had been given until the end of this week to respond; he had received no responses at the time of the meeting last evening. Negotiations are being conducted with two other bargaining units at this time in the normal course of those contracts renewals.
Casual discussions after the meeting made me believe that it was unlikely any of the four bargaining units would agree to re-open their contracts simply to give back wage increases already approved. If any of these agreements were to re-opened, the concessions would almost certainly not be granted without other considerations being made. That outcome will not surprise me, nor should it surprise anyone. Frankly, there may've been a better opportunity for these kinds of give and take discussions if the village board had become more engaged on the budget difficulties that were unfolding at an earlier point in the year. The lay-offs already made involved 8 part-time and 9 full-time employees and those are likely permanent given economic conditions here and across the country at this point.
The bottom line last evening seemed to be this: we will not have both a zero increase in village-driven taxes and a continuation of present levels of service. The cost of maintaining the current levels of staffing and services was discussed as being in the range of $42 for 2010 on a home with a $250,000 assessed value.
The Village Board meets again next Monday evening to discuss and decide this issue; citizens who are concerned need to make their concerns known between now and then and at the meeting.
The Curmudgeon Blog today is titled "Battle For America".