Citizen involvement urged for Niles budget process
Updated: March 18, 2013 1:17AM
NILES — The next fiscal year’s budget was one of a few items discussed during the Niles Village Board’s very first “informal consideration meeting” on Jan. 8, with some elected officials calling for more public involvement when it comes to how the village spends tax dollars.
Some trustees indicated that they want to see more citizen input on the 2013-14 spending plan before it is voted on and takes affect May 1.
“I would advocate for letting people be part of this process,” said Village Trustee Rosemary Palicki, pointing out that last year residents were not allowed to comment on the budget at a March meeting under an order from Mayor Robert Callero. “At the April meeting, it’s really almost too late.”
A series of open budget workshops are tentatively scheduled to be held in March and a public hearing on the budget will occur in April before trustees formally vote on the appropriation ordinance.
“I think there’s a real value to allowing residents to make comments,” said resident Mary Marusek who is running for trustee in the April election.
Trustee Louella Preston, who is running for re-election this year, said she made some budget requests that were not put into last year’s budget. Callero replied that he asked for a hard copy of the requests, but never received them on his desk.
Preston added that she would like the upcoming budget to include a secretary for the new village manager. She said there were times trustees asked for written communications and were told the village manager did not have time to provide them.
As she has in the past, Preston again requested that the village hire someone to do a comprehensive audit of all the village departments that have not been audited lately. In addition, she questioned the village’s tree trimming and recycling budget. Preston said that the number of people recycling in Niles is about 21 percent which is less than other towns which average 30 percent or more. Preston felt part of the problem is residents receive one small bin, as opposed to larger recycling containers.
Trustee Andrew Przybylo, who is running for mayor this year, said the village should work on efficiency, keeping taxes down and creating a healthy business environment.
“Anything you can do to do those things is going to be a winning formula,” Przybylo said, urging staff to keep those goals in mind when drafting the 2014 budget.
Instead of meeting just once a month, the board is now conducting what is called an informal consideration meeting on the second Tuesday of each month. Regular Village Board meetings, where formal action is taken, will continue to be held on the fourth Tuesday of each month.
The village has set tentative budget workshop dates for March, 12, 19 and 28. All will take place at Niles Village Hall, 1000 Civic Center Dr., and are open to the public.