Saturday, May 26, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: The Maywood Park District’s 809 W. Madison building. | File
During a May 15 regular board meeting, Maywood Park District officials requested that the Maywood Board of Trustees reimburse $19,453 in building permit fees associated with the renovation of the park district’s 809 W. Madison building.
The request put some board members in an awkward position, particularly when park district officials admitted that the request is the result of mistakes made by past park district employees while applying for grant funding necessary to complete the renovation.
The park district broke ground on the renovations to the building back in April and architects said that the work could be complete by September.The new recreation center will feature numerous multipurpose rooms, meeting space and conference rooms, among many other amenities.
The renovations are being funded by a $1.62 million state grant that the park district was given back in 2014, when former governor Pat Quinn was still in office, and $285,000 in TIF funds allocated to the park district by the village of Maywood last year.
Park district officials told board members at the meeting earlier this month that none of the grant money they had secured had been earmarked to pay for building permit fees.
The fees included more than $3,000 to pay for the village to send out plumbing, electrical and plan review inspectors to the construction site (plumbing and electrical contractors are outsourced). In addition, the village charges general construction and HVAC permit fees of $20 for every $1,000 of the overall project.
Since the park district’s overall project costs are projected at around $1.2 million, those latter fees amount to $15,605, said David Myers, the village’s director of community development.
Lonette Hall, the park district executive director, said that the district had already paid the village the permit fees from parts of the grant that were earmarked for other purposes. They were just asking for the village to reimburse the money.
“We’re asking that it be refunded back to us,” Hall said. In a board memo, Hall explained that the refunded dollars would “allow [us] to better plan for contingency situations that may occur as this construction project continues.”
Myers said that if the board decides to refund the park district the amount it paid to secure the permits, the village would have sent “multiple inspectors out at no charge.” He added that the village would need to take money out of its general fund to pay back the park district .
Trustee Ron Rivers asked why the park district, a separate taxing agency, did not pay for the permit fees from the money it obtained from the grants.
“Is this an oversight?” Rivers asked.
“Yes, it was,” Rone said, adding that at the time the grant was being processed, the district “had other people who were working on it as well who are no longer with us at the park district.”
Hall said that she had “inherited” a flawed process, explaining that “some things I know we should have done beforehand that weren’t done.” She said that the district paid for the permit fees out of grant money that wasn’t allocated for that purpose so that the renovations would not be delayed.
But some board members were not comfortable with giving back all of the permit fees, with Rivers saying that he would be open to refunding only a portion of the nearly $20,000 total.
Trustee Kimyada Wellington, however, said that she wasn’t comfortable with giving the park district more money, particularly after the village already approved $280,000 in TIF funding for the renovation project.
“It’s like we keep throwing money at the park district and we’re not helping the village,” Wellington said.
“It’s been said before that we’re not in the recreation business, but we seem to keep being involved,” she added. “I don’t feel comfortable with this request. I would lean toward loaning them the money and doing some kind of repayment.”
Hall pushed back, arguing that the park district “is not asking for the village to keep bailing us out because that’s not what we’re here for. We’re trying to accomplish one thing — to have a decent facility that is run efficiently and effectively to provide services for the entire community.”
Trustee Isiah Brandon said that the situation was less than ideal for both the village and the park district.
“This puts you guys in a jam and it puts us in a jam,” he said. “[We have to] figure out how this whole ordeal is going to work. It’s a situation.”
Trustee Henderson Yarbrough made a motion to table the matter so that staff can calculate the costs to the village of repaying all, or a portion, of the permit fees back, and “whether or not we can share the costs.”
The motion passed 6 to 1, with Mayor Edwenna Perkins providing the only dissenting vote. The board is expected to take the matter up again at its next regular meeting on June 5. VFP
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