Second Village Board Member Will Not Seek Re-election

Mae Brandon, Georgia O'Neill, Theresa Settles, School District 201-U, Talala School, re-election
Trustees Mae Brandon, Georgia O’Neill, and Theresa Settles listen as administrators of School District 201-U outlined plans to close Talala School at a meeting on October 1, 2018, in Park Forest. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

The election math has changed in Park Forest. 

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- At the October 6th, 2018, Park Forest Kiwanis Pancake Day, eNews Park Forest learned that Mayor John Ostenburg will not seek re-election. When his current term ends, he will have served 20 years as Mayor of Park Forest. eNews Park Forest also learned recently that Trustee Georgia O’Neill will not seek re-election in the April 2nd, 2019, Consolidate General Election. This will leave two vacant seats for voters to fill: one for mayor, one for trustee.

Trustee O’Neill told eNews Park Forest that she would retire from the Village Board after 12 years service, that 12 years was enough.

She seemed at peace with her decision, no doubt looking forward to spending time with her family.

So the math for the 2019 spring election has changed.

Record Short Rules Meeting Last Monday

It did not appear that the Village Board was going for a record, but they certainly might have set one with last Monday’s Rules (discussion) meeting.

The board had one item only on the Rules agenda: an ordinance to make sure that debt recovery fees are paid by the person responsible for a fine.

Actually, that ordinance was already in place. At last Monday’s meeting, the board simply had to approve legal tweaking of the original ordinance which was passed a few years ago. 

According to the board agenda item, the Police Department was notified by the Office of the Illinois State Comptroller of required changes in the Village of Park Forest’s use of the Local Debt Recovery Program (LDRP) as result of their policy, specifically stating that it requires:

as a matter of policy that debt collector’s fees cannot be added to the amounts listed on either a Final Notice or a Final Notice of Determination issued by the local government without both an ordinance in place that permits the addition of such fees to the final amount imposed under the local ordinances governing specific violations and notice that the amount listed could increase to either a specific amount with the addition of a debt collector’s fees or by a specific percentage of the final amount listed on the notice.”

In other words, “in order to successfully pass debt recovery fees charged by collection agencies to the person found responsible, the Village must pass an official Ordinance codifying the board-approved practice of adding the collection fees to debts owed,” the agenda memo states.

So, when someone receives a fine from the Village of Park Forest, the following language will be added to all notices/orders of final determination:

“The amount of the fine, upon the occurrence of final determination of liability for the failure, and exhaustion of, or failure to exhaust, administrative or judicial procedures for review which are available to you under municipal ordinance or state law, that remains unpaid, may escalate to include a collection fee of 35%.

“The Village of Park Forest reserves the right to transfer any unpaid fine amount due and owed to a private agency of its choosing for collection.

“Any cost[s] incurred by and/or from doing so shall be assessed to you.”

This ordinance amendment, “crafted with the assistance of Village Prosecutor Jason Danielian,” simply put the Village’s current ordinance in compliance with the required changes specified by the Office of the Illinois State Comptroller.

So it was Chief Christopher Mannino who was called on to explain this change of language in the ordinance to the board. He did so beginning at 7:00 p.m., speaking for perhaps a minute, not much more. By 7:02 p.m., the board, understanding the simplicity of the required ordinance change, adjourned the Rules meeting.

Mayor Ostenburg then called to order the Regular (voting) meeting, which lasted, all in all, until approximately 7:25 p.m.

The above ordinance passed unanimously.