Feature image: Wikipedia
A referendum to lower property taxes could possibly be one result of the new law to revamp state aid to education in Illinois.
Feature image: Wikipedia
A referendum to lower property taxes could possibly be one result of the new law to revamp state aid to education in Illinois.
Saturday, September 2, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Feature image: J.B. Pritzker during a campaign stop in Chicago on Sept. 2. || Alexa Rogals/Wednesday Journal
During the opening of a campaign office in the Chicago’s Austin community on Saturday, Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker — who’s widely considered to be the frontrunner in the Democratic primary race — explained what he said is the key to lower property taxes in Maywood.
Friday, August 25, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Feature photo: Proponents of a Melrose Park welcoming ordinance during a village board meeting in February.
Last month, the Melrose Park village council unanimously approved an ordinance called the Trust Code, which mirrors Senate Bill 31 — also called the Illinois Trust Act — that Gov. Bruce Rauner is expected to sign on Aug. 28.
Thursday, July 6, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The Illinois House voted 71 to 42 on July 6 to override Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of a revenue bill “that will hike the personal income tax rate — while also voting to override two other budget bills,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported on Thursday.
For the first time in two years, Illinois has a full budget in place after after a two-year impasse, “the longest such impasse for any state in modern history,” according to a July 6 New York Times report.
“The decision to approve the budget, which includes an income tax increase expected to generate about $5 billion, came as Illinois was sinking deeper into fiscal misery,” the Times reports.
“The state is $15 billion behind in paying its bills; has delayed or stopped payments that have especially affected the elderly, poor and students; and has been warned that its credit rating could sink to junk status, the lowest for any state.”
In the run-up to, and after, the historic vote, local state lawmakers were vocal in their support of the measure.
After the State Senate voted to override Rauner’s veto earlier this week, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (4th), (whose district includes Bellwood, Broadview and Maywood, along with other western suburbs and parts of Chicago), said that the plan “would give our neediest populations and decimated institutions a fighting chance.
“Families, our most vulnerable populations and businesses alike need consistency,” Lightford stated. “It is time for Governor Rauner to set aside his political antics once and for all and do what he was elected to do, enact a budget.”
State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th), whose district includes much of Proviso Township, praised the plan.
“The plan cuts state spending by nearly $3 billion, while protecting our seniors, supporting our most vulnerable citizens, revitalizing our violence prevention programs and funding our schools, colleges and universities,” he said.
In a July 6 Facebook post, uploaded as the House debated the governor’s vetoes, state Rep. Kathleen Willis (77th), (whose district includes all or parts of Bellwood, Maywood and Melrose Park), said that although the measure isn’t perfect, “we must do something. As one of my colleagues said last week the state hemoraging. This is a way to stop bleeding out. My view is that you must stop the bleeding before you can repair the damage.”
Now, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is warning that if the judge keeps the tax from taking effect by August, the county would have to cut 10 percent of its budget.
Per the Chicago Tribune, “In a letter dated Monday sent to all county elected officials, bureau chiefs and department heads, Preckwinkle budget director Tanya Anthony said analysts would be providing them ‘a recommended course of action’ to meet spending cuts needed if Cook County Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak doesn’t lift a temporary restraining order that’s preventing the penny-per-ounce tax from being levied.
“Kubasiak stopped the tax, which was supposed to go into effect Saturday, after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and several grocers sued the county to permanently block it on the grounds it is vague and unconstitutional.
“The county was counting on $67.5 million to be collected through Nov. 30 via the tax on pop and other drinks.”
Read the full Chicago Tribune article here. VFP
Saturday, June 10, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Crime is decreasing overall in Maywood and surrounding communities, but instances of theft are becoming more frequent, said Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley.
The chief provided the information during a regular crime update he delivered at a June 10 regular breakfast meeting of the Proviso Township Ministerial Alliance, held at Freedom Baptist Church in Hillside.
“[The increase in theft] is expected,” Talley said. “It’s summer.”
The chief, however, added that, so far, this summer has been marked by more reports of theft than this time last year.
“Some of you are getting checks back from the IRS,” he said. “If you get a new television, cut the box up. If you bought that 72-inch plasma TV and you put the box out, I can almost guarantee that somebody is going to break into your house.”
Talley said that the there was a 100 percent difference in the number of theft reports logged in May 2016 versus those logged in May 2017. In Bellwood and Melrose Park, there were close to 20 thefts reported in each village during the month of May, Talley said.
“Melrose Park usually has zero around this time,” he said.
In Maywood, 34 thefts were reported, double the amount reported in May 2016, Talley said.
Talley also provided a brief update on the consolidation of Maywood’s and Broadview’s dispatch centers.
A new law that went into effect last January requires municipalities with populations of less than 25,000 to consolidate their 911 dispatch systems. The law also revokes the authority of local governments to collect surcharges from telecommunications and wireless carriers while enacting a uniform statewide surcharge.
Village attorney Michael Jurusik said at the time that Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration “is all about consolidating these multiple municipal governments, so they looked at all these public safety access points, or PCAPs. These are your dispatch centers. They said, it’s too many of these things out there; let’s get everybody to consolidate.”
Jurusik also noted that part of the state’s motivation for the bill was the lack of quality emergency dispatch systems in rural areas largely concentrated downstate.
“The idea behind the legislation was to get everybody to a basic floor,” he said. “Most towns in metro Chicago are at the ceiling with good technology and good 911 systems; but other parts [like rural areas and much of downstate] didn’t have any 911 [dispatch centers].”
Since those talks last year, Broadview and Maywood have moved closer to combining their respective dispatches into a single dispatch system called Ike Communications, Talley said. The dispatch operation will be housed in Broadview, which is expanding and modernizing its dispatch center.
“We have to have something in place by December 30 of this year,” Talley said, adding that by December 30, 2018, all dispatch systems in municipalities of less than 25,000 that haven’t been exempt from the state law will go dark.
“Broadview is an excellent partner to be with because we have the same union, the Fraternal Order of Police, the same … computer systems,” and other similarities, Talley said.
He added that two additional dispatchers could be brought on to shore up the staff of the consolidated system. Maywood currently has eight tele-communicators and Broadview has three. VFP
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly mentioned that Bellwood and Maywood were consolidating dispatch centers.
An aerial view of the Maywood Park District’s headquarters at the corner of 9th Ave. and Madison St. | Google Earth
Friday, June 9, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The Maywood Park District’s headquarters at the corner of 9th Avenue and Madison Street will get an extreme exterior makeover this summer. Construction is scheduled to start on June 19 and end by late September or early October, park district officials said.
The redesign includes the installation of pingpong and game tables, the resurfacing of the parking lot, the renovation of the outdoor garden, the installation of a flower bed island in the lot, brand new fencing, a new outdoor basketball court that could be converted into additional parking during the winter months, and a t-ball and soccer field designed for smaller children, among other improvements.
The park district board has secured Hitchcock Design Group as the lead architectural firm after an open bidding process. According to its website, Hitchcock has offices in Austin (Texas), Indianapolis, Chicago and Naperville.
The district has also identified a general contractor through an open bidding process. The park district board is expected to vote to hire the firm at its next meeting on June 13.
Toni Dorris, park district’s executive director, said that the district is waiting for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to sign off on sewer work that would be a prerequisite for the grounds improvements.
“We have storm sewers that have been collapsed for a quite a while and it makes no sense to build on top of something that’s messed up,” Dorris said.
“The storm sewers need to be fixed so we can put in brand new pavement, grass, drains and [other additions]. We want to make sure everything runs into the 9th Avenue storm system properly,” she said, adding that district should get approval from the MWRD sometime next week.
The roughly $500,000 project is fully funded, with half of the money coming a state grant that required matching funds.
The district secured a loan from Hinsdale Bank in order to match the grant amount, Dorris said. As a condition of securing the loan, the district embarked on a period of austerity, which included enacting significant budget cuts.
A photo of architectural drawings of a proposed $500,000 exterior rehab project of the Maywood Park District that is set to begin on June 19. | Michael Romain/VFP
An additional state grant, worth $1.62 million, will go to fund the rehabilitation of the district’s long-abandoned facility at 809 W. Madison St.
The grant had originally been given to the district in 2014 under former Gov. Pat Quinn. Shortly after he took office, though, Gov. Bruce Rauner issued an executive order suspending a range of “nonessential” state spending.
The suspended funding included the two grants that the park district had planned on putting toward renovating the 809 building and enhancing its grounds. Last year, however, the state freed up that funding.
The $1.62 million grant requires the park district to raise 10 percent, or $162,000, on its own in order to receive the total grant.
At the time when the grant money was received, the district had a limited period to raise the matching money, with officials embarking on an ambitious fundraising campaign that was ultimately suspended.
Park District Commissioner Terrance Jones said that the campaign, which entailed the district hosting small events and projects designed to raise the money, didn’t generate much revenue. Eventually, the deadline for raising the money expired.
The state has since granted the district a one-year extension. The district has until July 1, 2017 to come up with the money, Jones said.
“Prior to my arrival the district was having fundraisers to come up with that 10 percent so that they wouldn’t have to borrow the money, but once I got in there I realized that time was running out,” Dorris said. “Even if we had a fundraiser every week [the district would still be short of the matching amount].”
Dorris said that she recommended that the district seek out a single bank that would loan the district money to match the funding for both grants.
“If we have to pay something back, let’s pay for something that’s worthy of paying back,” Dorris said.
Dorris added that Hinsdale Bank has expressed interest in loaning the district the matching amount for the $1.62 million grant as well, but the lending process has been held up because an initial financial plan developed by the park district prior to her arrival did not budget for a sprinkler system.
“Hinsdale has stated that they want to help us but they need true numbers, because what we presented to them so far doesn’t include the cost of a sprinkler system,” Dorris said, adding that a sprinkler system in a building the size of 809 W. Madison could add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the construction budget.
The additional cost means that the district’s original plans for the building, which had included state-of-the-art conference rooms, computer labs and lounge areas, may likely need to be pared back.
Dorris said that the district holds regular meetings that are exclusively devoted to discussions about grants. The next grant-only meeting is on June 29, 6 p.m., at 921 S. Madison St. in Maywood. VFP
This article has been updated to correct for the location of the storm sewer system. Village Free Press regrets the error.
State Sen. Kimberly Lightford with childcare providers and parents during a press conference on Monday outside of Sun Children Day Care in Bellwood. | Provided
Monday, August 29, 2016 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) hosted a press conference outside of Sun Children Day Care, 3903 Adams St. in Bellwood, today to blast Gov. Bruce Rauner’s Aug. 26 veto of a bill that would’ve expanded affordable childcare to more families throughout the state.
Senate Bill 730, which was voted on by large majorities in the Illinois House and Senate, would have expanded the Child Care Assistance Program to include families with incomes ranging from 185 percent and 250 percent of the federal poverty level within two years.
Last year, Rauner changed the monthly income requirements for CCAP eligible families from up to 185 percent of the federal poverty level to up to 50 percent of that level. Later on, he lifted that minimum income threshold to 162 percent of the poverty level.
According to estimates by SEIU Healthcare Illinois, Rauner’s original changes to CCAP eligibility may have forced 55,000 children out of the assistance program. SB 730, they argued, would’ve allowed an estimated 52,000 additional children to benefit from the program.
Explaining his veto, the governor said that SB 730 “irresponsibly imposes an approximately 40 [percent] increase in the overall size of the program without any provision to fund such a broad enlargement.”
During her Aug. 29 press conference, however, Lightford and others said that the governor’s veto spells financial disaster for low-income residents, particularly women and children. SEIU officials noted that women comprise 99 percent of the childcare provider workforce and 94 percent of parents who participate in the CCAP program.
“Parents in Illinois are paying more per year for infant care than a year of rent or college tuition. Starving the Child Care Assistance Program decreases the pay for providers and increases already high costs for parents,” said Senator Lightford, the SB 730’s chief sponsor. “This legislation creates jobs, and more importantly, creates a path to the middle class for many families.”
“The Child Care Assistance Program is a program that serves and employs women, making it possible for mothers to support their families and to contribute to the local economy,” said childcare provider Faith Arnold, who hosted the event at Sun Children, which she operates out of her Bellwood home.
“Bruce Rauner’s cuts to CCAP are forcing women out of school, out of work, and off the path to greater earnings and advancement,” she said.
Tenai Woods, whose son goes to Sun Children, said she lost her childcare for two months and had to decrease her hours at a local nonprofit just so she could keep her CCAP eligibility.
“Without child care, I can’t work,” she said. “I don’t want to cut back my hours, but without child care, how can I work and support my family?” VFP