After a nice time away from the hustle and bustle of the suburbs, we are ready to get back to work. It’s always nice during the holidays to take some time away from everything with your family and go somewhere. I hope that everyone reading this, if not able to get away, had the opportunity to spend it with the people you care about. It’s families and friends that make this world a better place.
So, Happy New Year to all my neighbors and fellow residents out there!
The primary mission of this site has always been and continues to be about demanding accountability and openness from our elected leaders. Major changes that occur to our public safety departments should be discussed with and approved by the residents before implementation, and the use of our tax-payer funds should be accounted for and be accurate on ALL documents put out by the village. Every “exposé” only holds it’s effects for so long before the message gets redundant – and I personally feel that with the new year this site should start taking a forward approach to the issues that our village faces. Which is why it’s time for answers to explain the past and hopefully action going on into the future! I’m hoping that our trustees are paying attention now, and maybe even asking questions behind the scenes, and have taken some of the suggestions and solutions that have been offered to heart and plan on using them in the new year. I’ve developed a list of questions that I have regarding everything that has been posted thus far. I’m hoping that someone on our Village Board will provide answers and the reasons and documentation to support those answers.
Without Further Ado:
This first few questions are as much a discussionary point as they are questions, so please bear with me. Why did the Village decide to cut the Fire Department services? As already discussed, cutting from 6 available vehicles to respond to 4 is a reduction, not just a “staffing model” change. With the news hitting the papers about an amendment to the contract for the Full Time Firefighters, was this “new staff model” really a result of internal politics and disputes, or did the village actually believe that the services the Fire Department provided were too costly or unneeded? Given that the board has now approved an amendment to the contract in question and approved changes to a staffing model they claimed was for the best of the Village (to almost what we the residents had before), only 2-1/2 months after it staunchly supported the now old “new staffing model” and it’s implementation, please explain to the residents why it appears they were ultimately used as guinea pigs / pawns in the Board’s decision process and agenda. If this really was about something internal, do the board members feel as though they were misguided in that they diminished the safety of the residents to try and force an internal or political result? Where there other factors involved, like perhaps getting advice from an Attorney Firm that specializes in Union busting who’s advice may be more serving of itself and it’s agenda than the people of the Village of Carpentersville? How much did we pay Clark, Baird & Smith for their services? And why do we have multiple attorney firms – is Klein Thorpe & Jenkins not capable of handling all the affairs of the village, including union negotiations even though their website says they have attorneys for labor and employment law? Ultimately, as a resident looking in, it’s hard for me to believe that my Trustees and Village President have a good enough understanding of the workings of each department, and instead I am of the opinion (and I really hope I’m right) that they were (mis)lead down this path by people whose advice they followed. If that’s the case – who’s responsible, and are the Trustees going to be doing something about it? My money was wasted by my Trustees, and they reduced the Public Safety Services to my home, my family, my neighbors and my fellow residents, and I expect as a taxpayer and elector that there will be repercussions for those who were advising the Board, as I currently have my “repercussions” vote waiting and ready for 2015 and again in 2017 should the need still be there to hold someone accountable.
Please explain how the Village Manager, Village President and Trustees arrived at the conclusion that the employees of the Fire Department were simply out to increase the amount of overtime that they receive (as stated in both board meetings and local newspapers.) Also please explain why the Board believes that this, and not the reduction in services of the Fire Department was the primary reason behind the public awareness campaign that the Fire Department employees initiated as stated in the local newspapers and on their public website. Most importantly, do you still feel that the Fire Department employee’s concern was about getting more overtime, or have you changed your opinion and plan to issue a public statement to that effect? Again, if you have changed your opinions, where you misled about the extent and nature of the internal dispute?
Why did the Village not consult with residents or offer time for any public comments on the reductions to Public Safety Services?
The Village has laid claim and pride on the fact that our Fire Department has an ISO (Insurance Service Organization) rating of “3.” Does the Village maintain that if ISO were to re-evaluate after the new “staffing model” that the Village would maintain it’s current rating or does it concede that the rating would get worse? If the Village believes it would be maintained, does the Village plan on asking for a re-evaluation to prove it’s position? Even with the new “new staffing model”, does the Village believe it would maintain a “3?” When are the Village Board Members going to start looking at 15 being a far superior number? Now that it can use part time firefighters as it deems necessary, wouldn’t it be a good time to increase the duty spots to 15. (5 in each station) Given that the contract posted in the Agenda allows for 3 Full Time Members to be off for vacation or schools, wouldn’t it be a really good time to set a maximum of 15 daily duty spots and a minimum of 12 daily duty spots? Wouldn’t a maximu/minimum daily manning account for and allow for the near elimination of overtime? Isn’t it time for the Trustees to take a good hard look at the level of benefit to the community that increase (with the use of part time firefighters) would have?
One thing I will say as a comment – information and understanding is key to being able to fully grasp what each department does and why it’s expense is necessary. I doubt that the majority of residents (and this is my opinion) would be staunchly opposed to tax increases if they knew and understood what the money was needed for AND what benefit the money they pay had for them.
Why did the Village decide to cut Public Works employees when it did? Was the department over-staffed for the work available?
Why did the Village increase the fees assessed by the Water and Sewer bill after having cut 6 employees from the department? (an arguable savings of over $600,000.00)
Please explain why the Village’s public works department has: Contracted out a portion of the snow plowing when it used to be handled in house (and please explain if this is really more cost effective and why) and why it takes quite a bit longer to remove snow when other villages (and the county and state) have already completed it. Is it a result of trying to limit over-time, an under-staffing issue, not enough vehicles? (Note: I understand that the recent snow and harsh cold was not expected by our Village or any other agency in Illinois, and that this question is in no way referring to the last week of snow disasters…)
Given the reduction in employees over the past few years in various areas of the Village, was it really prudent of the Village to give such generous raises to high level (department heads / managers) employees? When board members comment publicly in board meetings during discussion periods of union contracts how the 1-2% raises are such a burden on the village, isn’t there a bit of hypocrisy to pass without similar pomp and circumstance raises at and above 10% for management?
Please explain the fiscal income crisis as eluded to multiple times (i.e. hard economic times, the economy is hitting the village hard, “if the inflationary pressures of the macro economy…” etc.) when the overall income of the Village has remained largely untouched as a result of tax increases.
Given that the revenue streams of the village have remained relatively stable over the last 7 years, and given the significant reduction in employees of the Village over that same time period, where is the extra money being allocated now that it is not being spent on personnel?
Why would the Board hire a Village Manager, knowing that he had left his former employer, Wheeling, on questionable circumstances with only a separation agreement as explanation for his immediate and abrupt departure? I’ll have to jump to an assumption on the Board knew about Manager Rooney’s past, which I’m not fond of doing, but if the board didn’t know then someone really dropped the ball. Were their no other qualified candidates? Did he possess some skills or knowledge that other candidates didn’t? Was it about money? What’s the deal?
I must also ask – why is it that almost every department head (or assistant) that has been hired under our Village Manager came from Wheeling or has worked closely with him? Does that not seem like a bit of croynism? Is there no other talent in the area that might be better, and, who is it that conducts the job postings and interviews?
Given that there are Ordinances in place to ensure that the Village Manager, Fire Chief and Police Chief are residents of our community, and the obvious benefit that has, (after all, why would those individuals make decisions that would negatively affect their homes and families) why would the Village Board grant a variance to those individuals who hold the most power over the day-to-day decision making to continue to reside outside the community their decision effect? When the ordinance was made, what was the purpose if it wasn’t supposed to be followed? What rules/policies did the Village put in place or have in place to ensure that a good faith effort (including a reasonable listing price given the market) for those individuals to sell their home and move into the Village? Why does the Village Board not stick it’s own rules and either Force those top people to live in town or replace them with someone who does?
Given the disparity between the budget documents and the financial statements, is there a reasonable explanation that exists as to why these documents state significantly different information across all the years studied? (please refer to the downloads section for Save Carpentersville’s analysis documents on the budgets and financial statements)
Why does our Village have a significant amount of money in the Water and Sewer Fund devoted to the Personnel Salaries and Benefits of the Finance Department?
When “projecting” revenue amounts, what is the current system the Village uses, and why? Given the accuracy rate of projections (as posted in the documents section and taken from Village Financial Documents) is only 10%, isn’t it time the Village look at other methods or means of more accurately “guessing?”
When using projections – and updating them throughout the year, it can be argued that the Village constantly puts it’s employees, and consequently, residents, under threat of lay-offs and “dire circumstances” and service reductions by continuing a yearly cycle of cutting expenditures and re-allocating the “saved” money elsewhere – what does the Village have to say about this practice, and why doesn’t the Village stick to the budgets that it approves at the beginning of the year? Is going over ACTUAL revenues really that bad, or is that what a contingency fund is for?
How big is our “contingency fund,” what’s the recommended amount by the state or CPA’s and what’s the Village’s desired amount? What is the fund used for if we are constantly cutting to stay under the actual revenue dollars?
Does the Village use it’s general fund as a “slush” fund in order to balance out the other funds in the Village when they are short? If so, what is being done to ensure that the other funds are properly projected and used according to the budgets laid out at the beginning of the year?
As a taxpayer, it’s always a concern of mine when finances are co-mingled with political activities. Why does the Village use financial projections from the Illinois Municipal League, when it appears their primary function is to support municipal government through municipal oriented training materials, navigating the political arena and lobbying efforts in Springfield? While I don’t object to the Village having membership in this organization that supplies resources for learning, education and political action on the Village’s behalf, Let’s not allow our Village to get our financial projections from the same organization that is devoted to lobbying Springfield in a political way. We taxpayers have had enough of politics mingling with finances here in the “Pay to Play” State of Illinois.
Why is it, when the Village has spent the last few years explaining how difficult the “Great Recession” has made it for the Village, does the Village continue to fund Garbage collection? At 2.8 million dollars annually, is that not a large gaping wound in the budget that could easily be used to offset the difficulty we face? Although it may be a difficult political decision, please explain, in a professional, business-like, non-political manner why the Village continues to fund garbage collection, what benefit it has to the community and what, if any, negative effects to our community would there be should we decide to be like nearly every other town around us and have resident-paid garbage (stickers.)
Finally, why is that despite numerous requests, I have not yet received a phone call from any of my elected representatives? Please, I cannot stress this enough – communication is key to understanding, and a phone call is the easiest and simplest form of communication. The trustees have my number, my email addresses and my home address – feel free to use any of the above, although I’d like to be able to speak with my representatives about my concerns!
Please don’t feel as though answers should be limited – for the sake of openness with our community, our Board is encouraged to expand their answers as well as discuss other items of concern. There is a comment section here, which the board members can use individually, or the answers can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and i’ll post them with this article. If any board members would like access to the site to be able to create posts, I’m happy to give them that access, and there is a forum here on the board that can be used for that purpose. This website was created for the people and businesses here in Carpentersville, and your (Board Members) participation is eagerly requested! Don’t shy away from discussion – that only serves to disconnect you from the people you represent! If you have an opinion, express it! Our elected officials should not be afraid to educate the public about the decisions you have to make. I encourage my Trustees to have open and honest dialog with our community – this site was made for that, and can be changed and improved to meet the needs of the people and certainly at the request of my Village Board.
We aren’t just about exposing deficiencies here, we are also about showing solutions that can be implemented in an effective and rather cost-saving way. This entire site was built for free and with the knowledge of our Webmaster, with the only recurring expense being a monthly hosting fee of $7.00. I can only imagine how much the Village is paying for it’s website – it’s not hosted internally, but the entire site could be hosted internally using the same Content Management System that is used here – I wonder how much of the IT budget could be saved that way? And while i’m on the subject – why do we as a Village, in this day and age, still use http://vil.carpentersville.il.us as our website address? what’s wrong with Carpentersville.com, CvilleIL.com or something a little shorter and easier to put in?
Either way, I look forward to answers (and hopefully a phone call) from the Village Board.