By Rosemary Piser
As you are aware, Mayor Ostenburg and the Village Trustees have begun the arduous task of reviewing the Village’s 2009/2010 budget that has been prepared by Village staff. No one needs to be reminded that the current recession has had as much impact on the finances of our community as it has on our own net worth. Never has it been more urgent to find ways to do more with much less.
While most of us have found it necessary to eliminate the ‘frills’ from our lives like dining out or going to the movies in order to pay our bills, there are many services that are provided by local government, like trash or snow removal or police and fire services that simply can not be scaled back without causing serious consequences for the community. And since the primary source of revenue for the community is derived from taxes which many Park Foresters believe are high in comparison to other suburban areas, the primary way to cut expenses is to reduce or eliminate services.
One only needs to turn on the nightly news to hear that this problem is not unique to Park Forest – it is an issue facing all cities and municipalities throughout the country. Just this past week, Mayor Daley was heard forecasting much gloom for the city of Chicago’s budget unless its employees took more unpaid time off. While such actions certainly would help Chicago out financially, the fact is that if the staff are not at work, the services they provide will not be available or reduced while they are taking this additional time off.
At a recent Board meeting, Trustee Kopycinski made it a point to remind us what a terrific staff we have in Park Forest. Without any fanfare or request from the Mayor or Trustees, Village Manager Tom Mick took the lead and informed his staff that he would relinquish his annual salary increase in order to assist in maintaining the services in Park Forest. And what was the staffs’ reaction to Tom’s gesture? Senior staff and management also gave up their salary increases or agreed to take a reduced amount. These are people that have families and mortgages and other financial obligations just like the rest of us, but instead put the needs of Park Forest ahead of themselves. Not only does this say volumes about what a tremendously dedicated staff we have, this also speaks volumes about the respect and admiration they have for Tom Mick.
While the cynics will say that this gesture of the Village staff is simply saving pennies on the budget, I would challenge them by saying that during these difficult financial times, it demonstrates what a tremendous asset the staff of the Village of Park Forest are. Since we can always find the time to complain about things we don’t like, I would suggest that you take a minute and drop Tom Mick an e-mail at [email protected] and let him know how much you appreciate the things that he and his staff have contributed to making Park Forest one of the best places in the south suburbs to call home.