Money questions, solicitor restrictions, new guns, and more
by Melanie Jongsma
Village Board meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at the Municipal Court Complex, 2710 170th Street. The Committee of the Whole meeting begins at 7:00pm, and typically at that meeting items are brought up for review and discussion among the Trustees. A Village Board meeting follows the Committee of the Whole meeting. At each Village Board meeting, the Trustees are voting on items that have been discussed at the Committee of the Whole meeting two weeks previous. All meetings are open to the public. The highlights below are from the Committee of the Whole and Village Board meetings that took place October 3, 2017. (Click the links to view the agendas for these meetings.)
Questions about hiring JPH Incorporated
Village Administrator Dan Podgorski explained that the Director of Development position is still vacant, and the Village has a lot of economic development projects that need attention, so he is making a recommendation to bring on professional help part-time. JPH Incorporated (no website available) would provide an estimated 25–30 hours of work per month to Lansing.
Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich questioned the proposed salary for JPH, which works out to about $80/hour. She had done some research and learned that customary rates for this type of work are closer to $35/hour. “I don’t know where the $80 came from,” she said during the discussion before the vote. “I can’t find it in any of the literature. I’ve done a lot of homework on this because I’m really a big proponent of anyone who’s going to help us economically develop our community. I just have a few more questions, and I’m hoping we can postpone this vote for two more weeks so I can get some more answers.”
Podgorski asked the Board for input on whether they would be willing to delay the vote. Trustees Delaurentis and Manno were willing to move ahead. Trustee Skrbina preferred to wait, saying, “$35 and $80 is quite a bit of difference. It is the taxpayers’ money—maybe we should look into it.” Trustee Hardy expressed eagerness to avoid further delays of economic development projects. Following the discussion, Trustee Delaurentis moved to approve Resolution #1015, authorizing the execution of a professional services agreement with JPH Incorporated. Trustee Manno seconded, and the votes were as follows:
- Trustee Delaurentis: Aye
- Trustee Manno: Aye
- Trustee Grady-Perovich: No
- Trustee Hardy: Aye
- Trustee Skrbina: No
- Mayor Eidam: Aye
- (Trustee Zeldenrust was absent with notice.)
Solicitors in Lansing
In response to numerous complaints from residents being solicited by, in particular, energy companies trying to convince people to switch services, Clerk Vivian Payne presented a recommendation about how the Village handles solicitor permits. Her proposal includes increasing permit fees for solicitors, reducing the permit duration from one year to 30 days, requiring a background check on all solicitors, and requiring proof of insurance for vehicles used by solicitors.
The Village does already issue badges to solicitors, and that practice would continue. The badge shows the Village logo, the expiration date of the permit, a photo of solicitor, and verbiage indicating that the solicitor is not a Village employee. Clerk Payne encouraged residents, “If a solicitor comes to your door, and you’re not sure, ask to see that badge. If they don’t have a badge, you should close the door immediately and call the police non-emergency number and give a description of the person.”
Restrictions on solicitation do not apply to church groups or youth organizations such as the Girl Scouts. The proposal will be put on the agenda to be voted on at the October 17 Village Board meeting.
Police Chief Dennis Murrin explained that he would like to purchase new handguns for the police department, since the weapons have not been changed out since 2004. The current duty weapon is a SIG Sauer 40 caliber handgun, which is “extremely dependable.” Chief Murrin would like to purchase the same gun, but the new ones would have a rail mount underneath the barrel, which would allow officers to affix a flashlight. The cost of the new weapon is $645.
Chief Murrin asked that the purchase be made from the Asset Forfeiture Fund, which was used to purchase the current weapons, and that the Board consider waiving the bid process because the purchase would be made directly from the gun manufacturer. Chief Murrin also requested permission to allow officers to buy back their weapons at the trade-in price of $375.
The new guns would require new holsters, which the Lansing Police Department will provide. The flashlights would be purchased separately by officers who want them.
Board members attend Illinois Municipal League Conference in Chicago
Mayor Eidam mentioned in her report that the Illinois Municipal League Conference was held in Chicago September 21–23. She explained, “The IML is an amazing educational and networking opportunity for all Illinois municipal officials. There were sessions on everything from issues facing local governments to FOIA updates, from maximizing tax revenue to economic incentives beyond TIF districts, from social media issues to a mayors’ roundtable—over 80 one-hour sessions were available.” Village Board members who attended the conference included Village Administrator Dan Podgorski, Treasurer Arlette Frye, Clerk Vivian Payne, Executive Assistant Ken Reynolds, and Trustees Brian Hardy, Jerry Zeldenrust, and Maureen Grady-Perovich.
The next Committee of the Whole meeting and Village Board meeting are scheduled for October 17 at 7:00pm. Meetings are held in the Lansing Court Complex at the Police Station, 2710 170th Street in Lansing, Illinois. Agendas for these meetings are to be posted at least 48 hours prior, and they are typically found on the Village website.
As a taxpayer, I would like to know what are the credentials of JPH, Inc and how Dan Podgorski came to the decision to recommend them. Why don’t they have a website? Perhaps they do a superb job, 200% better than anyone else, but it would be nice to understand how that was determined. Though they were outvoted, I appreciate the efforts of Trustees Grady-Perovich and Skirbina on our behalf.
I would also like to comment at this time on how much I appreciate the new Lansing Journal. The coverage and the writing are top quality! I think The Lansing Journal will have a significant impact on Lansing, positively galvanizing the community. Thank you!
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