Village staff and elected officials provide answers
by Jennifer Yos
LANSING, Ill. (July 11, 2019) – By now most Lansing homeowners have received their 2018 Second Installment Property Tax Bill, and if they examine the Taxing District Breakdown, they can see that 16.96% of their total tax payment is allocated to the Village of Lansing. Taxpayers may wonder, “How will our Lansing Village Board be spending 16.96% of all property tax dollars?”
Lansing residents may not realize it, but they have a 10-day window of opportunity to get a pretty clear idea of where their Village of Lansing tax dollars will be going. A review copy of the proposed budget is available at the Lansing Village Hall (3141 Ridge Road) between July 5 and July 16.
During Village Hall business hours, simply ask anyone at the reception window to see the budget. The staff member will hand over a hefty, bound notebook with instructions to keep it in the building. You will be invited to have a seat in the lobby area to peruse the document.
The proposed 2020 budget includes an introductory summary sheet of individual department budgets, and then it details each individual department’s budgeted items, including salary overviews. Each budgeted item also includes an appropriation amount, which lets the taxpayer know what the legal spending limit is for the village on each particular item.
“I want the residents to know that it is a balanced budget,” said Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich. She has taken seriously her responsibility as a Trustee to review the budget carefully and ask questions about anything that is confusing or odd.
Trustee Jerry Zeldenrust also expressed appreciation for the “excellent work” of Lansing’s Finance Department: “They accept input and help weigh priorities across the entire village, while maintaining their absolute commitment to creating a balanced budget, staying within our means with an eye on anticipated revenues.”
Lansing residents who have questions regarding any part of the 2020 budget are encouraged to contact Village Treasurer Arlette Frye, Village Administrator Dan Podgorski, the individual department heads, or specific Trustees for clarification. Trustee Saad Abassy is currently serving as Finance Chair, and he is particularly helpful in answering budget questions.
Lansing taxpayers also have a more public opportunity to voice budget questions or concerns at a public hearing scheduled for 6:45pm on Tuesday, July 16, at the Municipal Court Complex (2710 170th Street). The regular Board meeting will follow the hearing, and if there are no major objections to the proposed budget, the Trustees will vote to approve it. Treasurer Frye says in her eight years of service to the Village, there has never been a proposed budget that was not approved immediately following the public hearing.
Trustee Abbasy added these assurances: “Our Village Treasurer and the Village Finance staff are diligent and professional in handling our village finances. Our village budget is balanced, and spending is tied to anticipated revenues.” Abbasy does have some questions about the proposed budget that he wants clarification on, and he plans to ask those questions directly to Treasurer Frye and Administrator Podgorski before the date of the public hearing, to ensure there is plenty of time at the hearing to allow the public to ask whatever questions they might have.
Trustee Grady-Perovich also directed questions to Administrator Podgorski, and his answers will help determine how much discussion she will engage in at Tuesday’s public hearing before voting at the Board meeting immediately following.
Trustee Zeldenrust says all of his questions have been answered satisfactorily, so he does not anticipate asking anything at the public hearing or the Board meeting. As Chair of the Police and Fire Departments he was pleased to note, “We are committed to maintaining the current staffing levels at our Police and Fire Departments as well as replacing several worn out vehicles that have been putting a strain on our vehicle maintenance budgets last year.”
By discussing the proposed budget and then voting on the appropriations ordinance, the Village Board of Trustees will be providing the legal authority to allocate money according to the proposed budget.
The public hearing and Village Board meeting will give Lansing taxpayers a chance to see the final phase of their Trustees’ work on the 2020 budget. As Trustee Brian Hardy explained, the process began in April, when all Trustees sat in on the initial budget negotiations with department heads, Mayor Eidam, Administrator Podgorski, and Treasurer Frye. “After a rough draft,” he said, “the budget is presented to the department heads and Trustees for review.” If reviewing the document brings up questions or concerns, Hardy says those are “always answered quickly and promptly by Treasurer Frye. She is a big help and does an amazing job along with her department staff.” Only after all questions are answered, and the public has a chance to comment on the budget, are the Trustees ready to vote.
The public hearing represents the public’s final opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions. That meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 16, at 6:45pm, in the courtroom at the Police and Court Complex (Lansing Police Department), 2710 170th Street, Lansing. The agenda for the public hearing is available at the link below.
The Village Board meeting and Committee of the Whole meeting will begin at 7:00pm, or directly following the public hearing. Agendas for those meetings will be posted when they become available.