21 Aug 2014
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Oak Lawn Village Board Approves 2013 Budget, 4-3

The 2013 does not include property tax increases or possible fees from Advocate Christ Medical Center.

Oak Lawn Village Board Approves 2013 Budget, 4-3

The Oak Lawn Village Board passed the 2013 general budget at a special village board meeting on Monday.

Residents will not see a property tax increase for village services. The village is requesting an 11-percent levy of the Cook County property taxes collected for 2011 in Oak Lawn.

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The $49,579,455 budget is less than the 2012 budget by $925,281. including refuse, special events, the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund, and the sidewalk and streetlight fund.

The village was able to come under last year’s budget because of reductions in certain expenses, such as employee life insurance and and a new landscaping service.

“This is a good budget,” Village Finance Director Brian Hanigan said. “There are no tax increases and it’s a balanced budget.”

There was some argument about the village selling off a parking lot across the street from the library for $1.8 million to plug a budget deficit. By state law, Illinois municipalities are required to pass balanced budgets, which means that no deficits can be carried over into the next year. The sale of the property is expected to close Jan. 5.

“So, in fact, we’ll be chasing $1.8 million this same time next year?” Trustee Alex Olejniczak (Dist. 2) asked.

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Hanigan said that the village sold property fairly often and has sold three village-owned properties each in excess of $1 million over the past six years.

“I don’t think we’ll be chasing a whole $1.8 million next year but that is a significant capital asset we’re selling,” Hanigan said.

Later, the village finance director said the sale was not to plug a budget hole because it was routine for the village to sell property.

Trustee Tom Duhig (Dist. 4), who has been fighting for was called on a point of order..

Since the hospital is a non-profit, it is not required to pay property taxes.

“I think we should go back and negotiate from where we left off,” Duhig said. 

The village board took a different turn when it voted to explore a plan for Advocate to foot the costs for a senior wellness center at the former Beatty Lumber Property at 96th Street and 52nd Avenue, in lieu of an impact fee.

Mayor Dave Heilmann called a point of order drawing a sharp exchange of retorts from Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6).

“[Trustee Duhig] is not speaking to an item on the budget,” Heilmann said. “He’s bringing up an issue that has already been decided by the village board. Under Robert’s Rules you can just bring something up … it has to be brought up in a certain way.”

Heilmann deferred to village attorney Patrick Connelly, who sustained the mayor’s point of order.

Olejniczak asked if there were other ways the village could raise revenue to get ahead of potential budget deficits next year so that Oak Lawn would not have to sell off any more of its assets.

“There are other ways to come up with that money,” Olejniczak said, referring cryptically to Advocate Christ. “One of them is something we can’t talk about because I don’t want to get a point of order. I’m just trying to make sure that we are specific that there could be money for somebody that is not paying anything at this point that could help us get ahead of our budget for next year, possibly.”

The 2013 general budget does not reflect any hospital fees, including building permit fees for the new patient tower that Advocate Christ plans to start construction on next year. Those fees could potentially be in the millions.

Other highlights of the 2013 general budget:

  • Utility taxes for natural gas and electricity will not increase;
  • 2.5-percent salary increases are scheduled for union and non-union village employees across the board; union employees, such as police, fire and public works, get the 2.5-percent increase, in addition to STEP increases;
  • $35 million, or 70 percent of the $45.5 million tax levy, is for employee salaries and benefits.

“From a historical perspective, we used to always anticipate that our expenses would rise $1 million a year,” Trustee Bob Streit (Dist 3) said, the village board’s longest serving trustee. “Besides an impact fee [from Advocate Christ] there are a myriad of ways the village could increase revenue or through economic development.”

The village board approved the 2013 general budget 4-3, with the mayor casting the tie-breaking vote.

Trustees Olejniczak, Duhig and Phelan cast the dissenting votes.

Oak Lawn is one of several taxing bodies that draw from local property taxes that are collected by Cook County.

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