Village board discusses ways to trim $1.6 million shortfall
By Jane Charmelo LOMBARDIAN STAFF REPORTER
The Lombard Village Board of Trustees on Thursday, July 21, discussed several ways to deal with a looming $1.6 million budget deficit next year, looking to raise revenue while at the same time making cuts to match. Prior to the meeting, Village Manager Scott Niehaus explained that the board is considering two specific proposals: to add an additional 1 percent “Places for Eating” tax at eating establishments in the village, as well as eliminate a senior taxi subsidy program. He said the idea is to raise $800,000 and at the same time, make $800,000 in budget cuts: for every $1 in new revenue, a $1 cut in expenses. At the meeting, Reid Foltyniewicz, District 3 trustee, noted that the proposal to add the tax was studied by the Finance and Administration Committee, of which he is chair. He related that the advisory group, made up of eight Lombard residents, had been looking at ways to trim the shortfall since November 2015, saying, “We saw some of the challenges we had to face and started tapping that right away.” The trustee said the projected shortfall stems not from overspending, but from such factors as unfunded state mandates imposed on the village, as well as rising pension and workers’ compensation costs. He said that rather than pass along the challenges to future boards, the committee said, “Let’s make some tough decisions now.” The committee, Foltyniewicz said, looked at several options that would raise taxes directly affecting Lombard residents, such as reinstating the vehicle sticker or possibly taxing video games and other entertainment. Making cuts to services was another option. However, he continued, it was considered a compromise that the Places for Eating tax be raised by 1 percent, adding that the village estimates that as much as 65 percent of gained revenue would come from out-of-town diners, which would be “a huge plus for us.” The trustee also emphasized that during the process of discussing the tax option, he spoke with members of the Lombard Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Yorktown Center and the Lombard Town Centre to get their opinions. He also spoke to local civic groups, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, to get their input. “This is not something we rushed through,” Foltyniewicz said, highlighting that the village, being a nonhome- rule municipality, is limited as to what options it has to raise revenue. “We have to rely on Springfield to take action,” he added. Niehaus said during the meeting that the village first added a 1 percent Places for Eating tax in 2003. He further stated that a number of municipalities also have such a revenue- raising measure: Schaumburg and Skokie, 2 percent; Villa Park, 1.5 percent; and Hanover Park, 3 percent, to name a few. He also mentioned how the general consensus is that the tax, on “sit-down” restaurants only, will not largely affect Lombard restaurants, as evidenced by the number of restaurants that have popped in Schaumburg, for example, where a Places for Eating tax has been active since 1987. Foltyniewicz reiterated that rather than look to future boards to raise the tax incrementally—a quarter percent, half percent or more—the committee said this option would potentially help reduce the budget deficit for at least three years. Bill Johnston, trustee from District 4, also emphasized that this would reduce a restaurant’s need to spend the money necessary to change its software if the tax were to be slowly added in. Foltyniewicz said the solution being proposed was a committee-wide recommendation, adding, “Eight members of this community got to vet this process as well.” In his view, this is the “best of the worst” way to help shave the deficit. “This has been a very long process,” commented Lombard Village President Keith Giagnorio. “A difficult decision but one we needed to make.” Niehaus said he has invited Lombard restaurant owners to meet with the village on Aug. 1 to discuss the proposed tax increase. On the expenditure-reduction side, Foltyniewicz said the same committee has recommended that the village eliminate a taxi subsidy for seniors, in which they have been able to buy a $26 cab voucher for $5. The move would save roughly $40,000 a year. He believes it is a “very smart move” to eliminate a program he says is redundant—other reduced-fare ride programs are offered by York Township and DuPage County. “Penny-pinching,” and freezing and eliminating village positions, the trustee said, “wasn’t quite enough,” so the village needs to find more ways to continue funding the most important core government functions—police, fire and public works. He added that the committee had approached public works, and even “selling equipment not needed only got so far.” “Is this a core function of government?” Foltyniewicz posed of the taxi subsidy. The trustee acknowledged that the board actions might result in a future dent in the senior-citizen vote, yet for him, it is still “the right thing to do.” “No one likes to cut a program like this,” he added. Since these agenda issues were part of a “first reading,” the board voted only to revisit them for possible passage at the Aug.18 village board meeting; no action has been taken to pass either measure. Niehaus said that if the 1 percent Places for Eating tax passes, it would take effect Jan. 1, 2017. If the board eliminates the taxi subsidy, vouchers will continue to be sold through the end of 2016, and can be redeemed until their expiration in 2017.
Deep Quarry Lake now open for boating
The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has reopened Deep Quarry Lake at West Branch Forest Preserve in Bartlett, ending a ban ecologists initially hoped would stop the spread of invasive zebra mussels. The district discontinued recreational boating at the 40-acre lake when it discovered zebra mussels there in 2009. Despite this effort, zebra mussels later appeared in the adjacent Bass Lake at West Branch in 2012, and in Mallard Lake at Mallard Lake Forest Preserve in Hanover Park and Eagle Lake at Hidden Lake Forest Preserve in Downers Grove in 2015. With the ban in place, the new infestations indicated the mussels were likely being spread by other means such as fishing, said district ecologist Dan Grigas, so the district decided to lift the boating ban. “We want to increase recreational opportunities for DuPage County residents by reopening this lake for our patrons to enjoy while still being cognizant of the hazards invasive species have on our ecosystems,” said Forest Preserve District of DuPage County President Joe Cantore. Now, boaters with valid district permits can again take to the 40-footdeep lake, which contains bass, sunfish, catfish, carp, bluegill and crappie. Boating rules and permits are available online. For information, call 630-933- 7200 or visit dupageforest.org.
Lombard area AAUW Used Book Sale Aug. 3-6
The Lombard Area AAUW opens its annual Used Book Sale on Wednesday, Aug. 3, from 5-9 p.m. at First Church of Lombard, 220 S. Main St. (corner of Main and Maple). Wednesday is “Pre-Sale Night” and timed entry tickets will be given out at 3 p.m. Admission this year is $5. Admission is free on Thursday and Friday, Aug. 4-5 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. as well as on Saturday, Aug. 6, when the sale is open from 9 a.m. until noon. This year there will again be special pricing – fill a bag of books – for only $10 on Saturday morning. Over 15,000 sorted books will be for sale including “collectibles,” children’s books and “better books,” in addition to hardback and paperback fiction and non-fiction. Most books are priced from $1 to $2, with better books and collectibles $5 and up. Come and look for a book you’ve always wanted to read or a recent bestseller. Proceeds from this annual event fund local and national scholarships and grants. In 2015, Lombard AAUW donated over $7,000 to scholarships and grants for women and girls. The mission of the American Association of University Women is to advance equity for women and girls through advocacy, education and research. More information is available on the AAUW Web site at lombard-il.aauw.net or on Facebook.
Park Art Center to feature local artists
The works of the recently formed Studios630, a group of west suburban artists and creatives, will be on display at Park Art Center from Aug. 5 through Aug. 27, with an opening reception from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 5 at Park Art Center, 9 E. Park Blvd., in Villa Park. “Studios630 is comprised of talented local artists from the community— 60 members strong and growing—featuring works in various mediums, including oil painting, mixed-media, digital art, printmaking and photography. “As a group we’re really looking forward to having our ‘Members Show’ hosted by Park Art Center. While many of our artists have shown in galleries, this is the first time most of us have shown together in one formal gallery setting. I’m really looking forward to seeing all our different styles in one room. It’s just wonderful what artists can do when they work together,” stated Sean McMenemy, co-founder, Studios630. The show, entitled “klekt!c”, will feature the works of many of the members of Studios630 including Cheryl Rausch, Don Meyer, Enisa Gonzalez, Toby Myles, April Dippy, Sean McMenemy, Sharon Tinker, Susanna Vasko, Fran Moran, Jason Shuckhart, Lisa Rundell, Bruce Schuurmann, Nancy Mueller Morimoto, Jennifer Cooper, Cherylyn Gnadt, Carolyn Dunn. The exhibit is free to the public. Members originally met serendipitously over coffee at the Corner House in Lombard and decided to collaborate in order to display and market their work close to home while also bringing art to the community. The works of Studios630 members also form a rotating exhibit, featuring from 10-15 artists per exhibit, at The Corner Gallery, inside The Corner House coffee house in Downtown Lombard. “I am excited to have Studios630 exhibit here at Park Art Center. Part of our mission is to unite as many artists as we can. We feed of each other, and influence is so important in the art field; the mix of styles and techniques are inspiring,” said Wendee Goles, president of Park Art Center.
District 45 holds walk-in registration next week
District 45 will hold walk-in registration next week for the upcoming 2016-17 school year. These registration sessions are for families who are new to District 45, or for those who did not register through the district’s online process. All the District 45 elementary schools will hold a “Meet the Teacher” event from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 16. The first day of school in the district is Wednesday, Aug. 17. Walk-in registration will take place at all the elementary schools on Tuesday, Aug. 2, from 1 to 7 p.m., and Wednesday, Aug. 3, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Walk-in registration for sixth-graders at Jackson and Jefferson middle schools will take place at the respective schools on Tuesday, Aug. 2, from 1 to 7 p.m. Registration for seventh- and eighth-grade students at Jackson will be held Wednesday, Aug. 3, from 1 to 7 p.m. Walk-in registration for seventh- and eighth-graders at Jefferson will take place from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 3. Jackson Middle School is located at 301 W. Jackson Street, Villa Park. Jefferson Middle School is located at 255 W. Vermont St., Villa Park. All the District 45 schools will hold walk-in registration from 1 to 7 p.m. on Aug. 2, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 3. Those schools include: Ardmore School (kindergarten through fifth grade)—225 S. Harvard Ave., Villa Park; North School (kindergarten through fifth grade)—150 W. Sunset Drive, Villa Park; Schafer School (early childhood through fifth grade)—700 E. Pleasant Lane, Lombard; Stevenson School (early childhood through second grade)— 18W331 15th St., Lombard; Westmore School (kindergarten through fifth grade)—340 S. School St., Lombard; and York Center School (grades 3–5)—895 E. 14th St., Lombard.