Category: Fiscally Speaking

Maywood Faces 14% Tax Levy Increase, Public Hearing Scheduled for Tuesday

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A table showing a range of tax levy scenarios proposed by village officials. The village board only has the ability to change the level of taxes levied for the corporate fund. The fire and police pension funds are mandatory increases. | Village of Maywood

Monday, December 5, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

At a Nov. 14 regular meeting, the Maywood Board of Trustees voted 4-2 on a resolution determining the estimated real estate tax levy for 2016. Village officials are recommending that corporate and special purpose real estate taxes be levied for 2016 at $19,128,739 — a 14 percent increase over the previous year.

Mayor Edwenna Perkins and Trustee Isiah Brandon voted against the resolution, while Trustees Henderson Yarbrough, Antonette Dorris, Michael Rogers and Ron Rivers voted in favor of it. Trustee Melvin Lightford was absent.

A chunk of that increase, village officials say, is due to the village paying more into its police and fire pension funds. State law requires the village to make annual contributions that would increase funding levels to a 90 percent “fully-funded” threshold by 2040, according to an October memo by village attorney Michael Jurusik.

Tax levy requirements for the fire pension fund increased from $2,428,188 last year to $2,601,079 this year — an increase of 8 percent. Tax levy requirements for the police pension fund increased from $2,533,343 to $4,013,846 — an increase of 59 percent.

Those increases, village officials say, are based on unfunded liability, “which represents monies that should’ve been in the fund and demographic factors that have changed to include the hiring of new employees, employees retiring or becoming disabled and salary increases.”

In a separate levy, village officials noted, “estimated property taxes for debt service and public building commission leases for 2016 are $2,753,200 — down $400,000 from the previous year.”

During a Nov. 30 Legal, License and Ordinance Commission (LLOC) meeting, Village Manager Willie Norfleet said that the levies for the village’s pension and debt service funds are virtually set in stone and the board has no power to alter them.

“There are no options for reducing or modifying the police and fire pension funds or the debt portion,” he said.

During that Nov. 30 LLOC, village attorney Michael Jurusik added that, if the village doesn’t properly fund its fire and police pensions, the state could enact harsh penalties.

“You have to make that payment because it is required by state law and there’s a penalty, because if you don’t, other money coming from the state that the village has budgeted to pay bills with will be taken and put into the pension fund,” Jurusik said. “It will put the village in a bad hole because you will be short paying your other bills and services.”

Jurusik said that “the village is not alone” in maintaining unfunded fire and police pensions, adding that he isn’t aware of any municipality whose fire and police pensions are fully funded.

“The reality is that this is an issue across the state,” he said.

The board, however, can adjust the level of tax levied for its corporate fund, which village officials are recommending be increased by $591,967, or 5 percent over last year’s level.

Lanya Satchell, Maywood’s director of finance, wrote in a November memo that her recommendation for a tax levy increase was based on additional funds necessary to address numerous issues, such as an additional $200,000 over what’s currently budgeted for tree removal, $500,000 in matching grant funds necessary to secure a $2.5 million grant for street repairs and more than $290,000 in automatic wage increases for some village employees.

Last year, the board voted to increase the corporate tax levy by three percent, lower than the five percent recommended by village staff at the time.

A public hearing to approve the proposed real estate tax levy increase will be held Tuesday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m., inside of the Village Council Room, 125 S. 5th Ave. in Maywood. VFP

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‘There’s Money Out Here,’ Says Maywood Mayor, Who Proposes Hiring Grant Writer to Catch Wave of State, Fed Funds

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews

Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins said during an Oct. 26 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting that, since getting elected in 2013, she meets once a month with other suburban mayors. Often, the mayor said, she leaves those gatherings bristling at what the village is missing out on.

“I hear what they’re getting,” Perkins said. “They have grant writers. Eight million. Three million. This done. That developer … They’re getting … money that’s not coming out of their coffers, but [from] state and federal [governments].”

Perkins said that Maywood would do well to follow suit and hire a full-time grant writer of its own in order to pursue the kind of state and federal dollars that other towns are securing.

“The money is out here,” she said. “You have to have someone who knows what they’re doing to go after that money. We don’t have that and we definitely need it, because we don’t have the funds ourselves to take care of these problems.”

Perkins said the village could desperately use the funds for capital projects, such as much-needed repairs to the town’s sewer system.

Village Manager Willie Norfleet agreed that Maywood could use additional grant-writing talent. He said that the county’s transportation director indicated that there’s probably at least $2.5 million that the village could stand to receive if it were able to put up $500,000 in matching funds.

Trustee Michael Rogers noted that there are numerous village officials with the ability to write grants, adding that he even took a six-week grant-writing course at Triton College.

And several village employees, such as Maywood firefighter Karen Ross and Maywood Police Detective Lawrence Connors, have secured major alternative funds for their respective departments with their own grant-writing skills. 

Maywood Fire Chief Craig Bronaugh noted that Ross’s grant-writing has helped secure at least $100,000 in alternative funding for the department. Recently, Ross wrote a grant that secured $51,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the department to purchase new handheld radios.

Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley said that Connors has secured around $3 million in alternative funds with his grant-writing skills.

“It’s important for many people as possible to have that skill set,” said Rogers. “I would love for the village manager to encourage all the department heads or managers to contemplate doing that.” [obtaining grant-writing skills].”

Perkins said that employees who can write grants aren’t necessarily as effective a full-time grant-writer, before noting that the the village missed out on a chance to hire one six years ago. 

“Instead, they hired a secretary,” Perkins said. “We need a grant-writer who can write any kind of grant we need.”

Trustee Henderson Yarbrough recommended that staff research more specifics about ways in which a grant-writer could be hired and the feasibility of hiring a full-time writer, as compared to a contractual or part-time writer.

Norfleet noted that his staff would begin planning for the position to be included in the next fiscal year’s budget. VFP

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A D V E R T I S I N G 

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Maywood Cuts Number of Red Light Cams, Hopes for Increased Revenues

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A photo enforced camera | Wikipedia 

Friday, August 5, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews || @village_free  

Maywood now has fewer red light cameras today than it had just weeks ago, a development village officials are hoping might allow them to cut the cameras’ operating costs and realize some revenue gains from the technology.

At a July 26 regular meeting, the village’s Board of Trustees voted 5 to 1 to reduce the number of traffic cameras  — the controversial red light technology used by law enforcement officials as photo evidence to decide whether or not to issue fines — from nine to five.  

Mayor Edwenna Perkins voted against the measure while Trustee Henderson Yarbrough was absent.

The village now has two red light cameras along Roosevelt Rd., one at 9th Ave. and Madison St. and two at 1st Ave. and Washington Blvd. The latter two red light cameras will replace two that were operating at 9th and St. Charles.

A third camera at that intersection had been inoperable since a car struck the pole on which it was suspended several months ago, said Maywood Police Chief Vladimir Talley. A red light camera located on the east side of 9th Ave. and Madison will be eliminated.

Talley said the poles that held the eliminated red light cameras may be used for other purposes. For instance, he noted, they have the ability to supply energy to regular skycameras, which, unlike traffic cameras, are used strictly for surveillance purposes and aren’t enforcement tools that police can use to ticket and fine drivers.

“That’s actually my intent,” Talley said in a recent interview when asked about the poles. “I have assigned Commander Sonja Horn to investigate options with companies that can look at our infrastructure and give us some rates for skycams that are affordable for the village.”

Talley, who said he’s looking to install an additional four surveillance cameras to the poles that once held red light cameras, noted that the village currently has 69 surveillance cameras. Many, however, haven’t been working for months.

The relationship between the village board and the company responsible for maintaining the camera system, Current Technologies, has soured ever since board members discovered that the village was paying money for a maintenance agreement that the company wasn’t upholding.

Talley said he recommended that the village reduce the number of red light cameras because it wasn’t generating any ticket revenue of its own and the several of the cameras were installed in places where they weren’t particularly useful.

The cameras are part of an automatic traffic law enforcement system operated and maintained by American Traffic Solutions, a private firm based in Mesa, Arizona that has contracts with hundreds of municipalities across the country to provide various traffic safety services and technologies.

The red light cameras, Maywood officials say, don’t cost the village anything; however, since the cameras were first installed in 2008, they haven’t generated much in the way of revenue for the village.

At a July 20 Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting where the issue was discussed, Lanya Satchell, Maywood’s finance director, noted that most of the money from red light traffic fines generated in Maywood has gone to ATS.

At nearly $5,000 per camera per month, the village would’ve had to generate more than $500,000 in traffic fine revenue in order to cover the cost of the ATS system. That, officials say, just wasn’t happening.

So, although the village wasn’t paying for the red light cameras, it wasn’t making any money from them, either. In fact, officials added, the traffic system’s operating costs had outpaced the village’s ability to realize any revenue of its own by around $250,000.

In addition to the board voting to nearly halve the number of red light cameras, it also voted to renew a contract with ATS that Talley said would eventually benefit the village.

As part of the four-year contract, ATS agreed to wipe out the village’s negative $250,000 operating balance and to readjust the monthly payments for the cameras from around $5,000 a month to $4,200 a month.

Talley said the lower annual cost, the village’s decision to reduce the number of traffic cameras to four and the decision to switch some cameras to areas where they’ll generate more traffic fines should allow the village to realize revenue from the camera system for the first time in a long time.

With the village now out of a $250,000 hole with ATS, if it can generate roughly $200,000 in traffic fines — money that automatically goes to pay ATS — any revenue beyond that goes into Maywood’s coffers.

Talley said that the reason many of the village’s red light cameras were put in areas where they weren’t necessarily needed, and thus not generating much revenue from traffic fines, was because the traffic model that ATS used to strategically place the cameras throughout town was off.

“When ATS first brought the idea for the the cameras to the village in 2008, they were using a first-generation traffic model that was off, because there were a lot of construction projects going on in town that changed the normal traffic pattern,” Talley said. “By the time the company came in to install the cameras, the traffic patterns changed.”

Talley said that there were multiple red light cameras near 9th Ave. and St. Charles even though there wasn’t sufficient traffic in the area to justify the cameras being there. Talley said, in 2008, five cameras were installed before an additional four were installed in 2013. The installations, however, took place without the company consulting with the police department.

“The police never really had a say in where those cameras would be at,” Talley said, adding that the lack of communication in 2013 may have been due to personnel changes. That year, the village elected a new mayor and both the village manager and the police chief announced that they would be retiring. Talley was hired in November of that year.

“When I got in, I took a look at where the highest patterns of traffic incidents were,” Talley said. “We looked into the red light camera issue and saw we weren’t getting a lot of good data out of those cameras. The opportunity came up to (make some changes) when we were nearing the end of our contract. I worked with ATS and they were very amenable and cooperative.”

The red light camera technology has come under fire across the country for what one Florida newspaper noted is the tendency among local governments and private vendors like ATS to use the cameras merely as a means to generating revenue.

“There’s plenty of evidence nationwide to support that, such as governments shortening yellow-light times to trigger more violations, and thus increase the number of tickets issued,” the paper noted.

And just recently, Cook County Clerk David Orr condemned Chicago’s Red Light Camera program as “corrupt” in the wake of reports suggesting that the city manipulated its red light cameras to prey on motorists.

Talley said that studies have shown that the cameras actually increase the safety of motorists and pedestrians. He cited a recent study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that, after looking at data from 14 cities between 2010 and 2014, found that “the rate of fatal red-light running crashes jumped 30 percent compared with the expected rate had cameras remained in use.” VFP

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Proviso Area Lawmakers Laud State’s Passage of Stopgap Budget

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Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton walk into Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office on June 28. | Seth Perlman/AP via nwi.com

Friday, June 1, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews ||@village_free 

Illinois state lawmakers reached a compromise, albeit limited, on the nearly year-long budget drama that, while conducted in Springfield, has played out in suffering across the state.

Faced with the prospect of shuttered schools in the fall, and greater uncertainty for social service organizations and businesses, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democratic lawmakers, under the leadership of House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, hammered out an agreement on a stopgap budget Thursday that would fund state operations for another six months.

“We have seen with previous successful budget efforts that we can come together, achieve compromise and pass a budget when the governor’s demands relative to his personal agenda that hurts families are dropped,” Madigan told reporters after the bill passed the House. “That happened again today.”

“This is not a budget. This is not a balanced budget,” Rauner said. “This is not a solution to our long-term challenges. This is a bridge to reform. That’s what this is.”

State lawmakers representing areas within Proviso Township greeted the news with a sigh of relief, but also with caveats.

“While this is a step in the right direction, we still have a lot of work ahead of us as we negotiate a full budget,” said Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th) in a statement. “I’m glad to say that our efforts to compromise have delivered some relief to the most vulnerable populations throughout our state.”

“This is not a complete budget nor a solution to Illinois’ ongoing fiscal challenges,” said state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch in a statement.

“It addresses only the most basic needs of the State and only takes us through the end of this year,” he said. “Though not a cause for celebration, I believe it is an important step forward for Illinois and an example of the compromise that has been in short supply in Springfield over the past year.”

Below is a summary, issued by Rep. Welch’s office, of things the stopgap budget covers:

P-12 Budget

SB2047 includes a full year of funding for P-12 education, and contains an increase in education funding of over $361M overall as well as an additional $250M equity grant for low income school districts. CPS will receive approximately $200M in additional funding in this bill, a significant improvement from the $75M cut to CPS in the Governor’s proposed P-12 budget.

Human Services

SB2047 will also provide $667M from a dedicated fund for human services to fund human services programs not currently covered under court order or consent decree. Examples include autism services, programs for people with disabilities, addiction treatment, programs for homeless youth, rape crisis centers, etc.

Higher Education

In addition to the stopgap higher education funding that was passed in April, SB2047 will provide an additional $1 billion in funding for community colleges, universities, and Monetary Assistance Program (MAP) grant recipients. This is critical to keep our universities functioning and allowing  low-income and first generation students to continue to pursue their educational goals.

Capital Projects

The bill includes funding for limited capital projects including road improvements and repairs and other infrastructure projects, and will ensure they are not interrupted and our state’s roads can be appropriately maintained.

It is clear that compromise is necessary and that neither party can address these problems alone. I commend the Governor for dropping his demand that we adopt his political agenda before participating in these stop gap budget talks. Instead, we were able to come together to prevent the devastating impact of a continued impasse on our students and most vulnerable citizens.

Again, it is imperative that we work towards a comprehensive budget that addresses our structural fiscal challenges and move us away from the crisis driven budgeting that has become the new normal.  However, passage of SB2047 marks a small step forward. VFP

Vision of Restoration to Host Resource Fair July 22

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Vision of Restoration Inc., Maywood Illinois Annual Community Resource Fair Friday, July 22, 2016; 10:00am – 3:00pm CST

Who: Vision of Restoration, Inc. (VOR) in partnership with the Maywood Park District

What: Presents its Annual Community Resource Fair- “Restoring Peace”

When: Friday, July 22, 2016 from 10:00 a.m.  to 3:00 p.m.

Where: Madison Street from 9th to 13th, Maywood.

Vision of Restoration, in partnership with the Maywood Park District, is presenting our Annual Community Resource Fair to support youth, seniors and families residing in Maywood and the surrounding western suburbs of Cook County.

This event is for the entire Proviso Township and will consist of a plethora of resources stemming from health care, local and state government, Village of Maywood resources, Greater Chicago Food Depository, employment, re-entry, veterans, youth Peace Ambassadors, education, entrepreneurial platforms, and a series of workshops and informational offerings that will cater to residents of all ages.

Last year’s fair was a tremendous success for the community. Mayor Edwenna Perkins stated, “I want to take the time to thank Vision of Restoration for a job well done on the 2015 resource fair! I look forward to working with them in the years to come!”

There were over 1,000 attendees and 60 vendors and organizations that lined 13th.

“We expect the attendance to increase to over 2,000 based upon the level of interest in this year’s Resource Fair,” stated Larry James, Executive Director at Vision of Restoration.

Mini Cooper is a sponsor for 2016. Terri L. Evans, Area Manager, Central Metro Market, Mini USA, stated, “On behalf of Mini Cooper and its dealers, we are dedicated to playing an important role in improving the communities where we live and do business.”

“Mini Cooper is honored to partner with Vision of Restoration of Maywood for this worthwhile event and look forward to a day of fun, entertainment and providing much needed resources to the families and youth residing in the western suburbs of Chicago.”

This all-around event will be full of resources, music, fun, food, and activities for seniors, youth and their families! Come join us and be apart of the annual celebration!

For more information, please call us at 708.344.3774, or click here. VFP

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Enough: Illinois Budget Standoff Must Be Resolved, Says State-Journal Register

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016 || By State-Journal Register Editorial Board 

Approximately 65 Illinois daily and weekly newspapers are running editorials today through the beginning of July, many on their front pages, on the need for an end to the state budget standoff. The State Journal-Register editorial board shared this editorial and urged other newspapers to weigh in on the need for a resolution to Illinois’ budget crisis.

letter i.jpgllinois’  budget standoff must be resolved, and must be resolved now. Whether or not our leaders manage to pass a stopgap funding measure this week, Illinois still needs the stability of a full budget to restore the health of our state and its economy.

For a year, our state’s elected leaders have engaged in what can only be called political malpractice.

Illinois is the only state in the country that doesn’t have a budget. For a year, because of that failure, it has stiffed small businesses, social service agencies and its higher education system, leaving them trying to operate without money they’re owed. State operations have been cobbled together through a patchwork of court orders, and the state gets deeper in debt by the minute.

Gov. Bruce Rauner said on Monday the state was on the verge of crisis, and that it would be an “outrageous, tragic failure” if schools don’t open on time this fall.

With all due respect, Governor, the state is already in crisis and the budget standoff has already been an “outrageous, tragic failure.” A stopgap may delay imminent emergency and we desperately need that. But it’s still not enough.

As legislators return to Springfield today — for the first time this month — Illinois’  historic, serious problems have been made even worse by the failure to compromise on a balanced, long-term spending plan.

The political war between Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan has been confounding and unconscionable.  Rauner has insisted on passage of the so-called Turnaround Agenda, a series of pro-business measures, as a condition of the budget. Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton have seemed focused primarily on thwarting the governor.

Neither the governor nor the legislature has put forth a balanced budget. Decades of delaying action and willfully ignoring issues like the state’s epically ballooning pension obligations have devastated its financial stability. The state must make cuts, and yes, more revenue will be needed to stanch the economic bleeding.

The consequences of having no budget have been harsh and far-reaching.

The state’s colleges and universities, which ought to be linchpins for growth and economic development, instead have been starved. Hundreds have been laid off, programs have been shuttered. High school graduates look at this mess, fear for their future, and enroll in out-of-state colleges. Our best and brightest may not come back after they complete their education elsewhere.

Meanwhile, more than 130,000 low-income students have had financial aid snatched away. Do these students who wish to better themselves and their future job prospects through education have other resources to continue? In most cases, no.

One million of Illinois’ most vulnerable people — the poor, the at-risk kids, the elderly, the mentally ill, the homeless, the victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault — have been directly harmed by the state’s dereliction of duty, as social service agencies cut services.

Hospitals and medical providers are owed hundreds of millions in unpaid state employee medical bills and delayed Medicaid payments.

Countless business owners, large and small, have struggled to survive because they haven’t been paid. Cities and small towns have been left holding the bag for unpaid state bills.

And yet, it could get even worse.

More than $2 billion in active road construction projects might be shut down, leading to as many as 25,000 workers losing their jobs.

The state’s corrections system says it’s on the verge of not being able to feed inmates and operate prisons.

Social services agencies will continue to turn away the ill, the homeless, the elderly.

The state’s schools were spared last year by a separate appropriation. But this year, many districts face the very real possibility of not opening or not being able to stay open.

But what have citizens seen from the Capitol? We have seen political posturing. We have seen a governor who campaigned as a practical business leader dedicated to finding fixes instead act as an ideological purist. We have seen elected representatives apparently unable to stand up to Madigan, Cullerton and Rauner to demand a resolution to the crisis. We have not seen compromise.

Perhaps the most damaging long-term effect is the toxic cynicism and frustration this crisis has created among its residents, who have to wonder at this point if Rauner, Madigan and Cullerton simply view the toll on Illinois’ people as mere collateral damage. At a recent Better Government Association panel on the impasse’s impact, multiple social service providers said flatly they don’t believe leaders care about their plight.

Many long-term changes are needed to restore Illinois to solid ground. Redistricting reform is a critical piece of restoring true political competitiveness that will lead to legislators facing more accountability to the voters they represent.

But the day has come. Illinois’ people cannot be held hostage for a second year without a budget.

Voters must revolt and demand better.

Enough. VFP

BRIEFLY: Broadview Approves $14M Budget

Broadview FY17 BudgetThursday, June 2, 2016 || By Michael Romain

During a May 23 meeting, the Village of Broadview’s Board of Trustees approved a FY 2017 budget totaling $13,960,109 in general fund revenue. The new budget is roughly 5.6 percent more than what was spent during the last fiscal year.

The village anticipates an increase of roughly 3 percent in property tax revenue for FY 2017 over FY 2016. The village anticipated a roughly 65 percent increase in revenue from intergovernmental transfers, such as the state income and replacement taxes; from $328,945 in FY 2016 to $541,667 in FY 2017.

This fiscal year’s budget passed with three votes, which represented a quorum, since one trustee was absent. Trustees Diane Little, John Ealey and Judy Brown-Marino voted in favor of the budget.

To view the authorized budget in its entirety, see below:

Briefly: Still Without A Budget, Broadview To Consider Approving One Tonight, May 16, 7 PM

Broadview village hall.pngMonday, May 16, 2016 || By Michael Romain  || UPDATE: 3:42 p.m.

The Broadview Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on a proposed budget tonight, 7 p.m., at the village’s municipal building, 2350 S. 25th Ave., Broadview.

The hearing comes a week after the four-trustee board majority — including Trustees Judy Brown-Marino, Tara Brewer, John Ealey and Diane Little — scheduled a special meeting to consider an ordinance that would change the year-end date of the 2016 fiscal year, since the board didn’t pass a FY 2017 budget by the statutory deadline of April 30.

That ordinance was tabled at the direction of the village’s attorney, who noted that his office hadn’t had sufficient time to review the proposed ordinance.

Broadview Mayor Sherman Jones noted that the village has gone beyond the statutory deadline in the past. Jones said it isn’t unusual for municipalities to go beyond their budget deadlines; they’re only penalized if they haven’t passed a budget before taxes are levied.

But the proposed budget, the mayor said, is relatively foreign to him, since it comes after the board had already agreed upon a FY 2017 budget, he noted. He said, before last week’s special meeting, he wasn’t informed about the board majority’s new budget.

“We already had three meetings about the budget before this [most recently proposed] one,” Jones said in an interview last week. The two-term mayor said he sent out robocalls to inform residents about the special meeting, an action that Trustee Little said was inappropriate and politically motivated.

According to many residents and village officials, Broadview’s day-to-day operations have been caught in the friction between the four trustees, who won election in 2013 on the Better Broadview Party ticket, and Mayor Jones.

The mayor and some village employees castigated the board majority for sabotaging basic services like website maintenance, emergency sewer repairs and snow removal for personal reasons, while the four trustees have noted that their decisions are based on reforming the status quo. VFP