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The Tinley Junction 041218

4 | April 12, 2018 | The

4 | April 12, 2018 | The tinley junction News Tinley Park Board of Trustees Village plans to add nine patrol officers with 2019 budget Restoration of Apple Lane and Fairfield ponds included Cody Mroczka, Editor Significant changes added to the 2019 fiscal year budget prior to the ordinance’s first reading will clear the way to add a total of nine patrol officers. The Board of Trustees met twice on April 3, first for the statutorily required budget public hearing, and later for a regular session in which the first reading of the ordinance was unanimously approved. Trustee Brian Younker was absent. According to the approved motion, the total general fund expenditure budget is proposed at $53,432,832 and the total expenditure budget of all Village funds, including the Tinley Park Public Library, but not the police pension fund, is $155,902,087. The Village staff recommended budget draft was first introduced during two Committee of the Whole meetings on March 12 and 13, but Mayor Vandenberg and Trustees tasked staff to find funds for additional Tinley Park Police Department hires and deferred water and sewer infrastructure work as well as help in the Public Works Department. Village Manager David Neimeyer said in addition to funding for five new patrol officers, an additional four will be funded, for a total of nine to be hired in fiscal year 2019. “That’s probably, easily, The 2017 and 2018 fiscal year main operating funds budget projections. VILLAGE OF TINLEY PARK DOCUMENTS the most dramatic increase in hirings we’ve had,” Neimeyer said. “I think this budget did accomplish a lot, but there’s a lot we need to visit on in the future.” For Public Works, added expenditures included $24,000 for Public Works timekeeping software, $10,000 for special event crews, and one of the department’s Clerk was upgraded from part to full time. A Please see BOT, 9 Round It Up A brief recap of discussion and action from the April 3 Board of Trustees Meeting: • The board passed a resolution honoring Tinley Park resident Ethan Michael Procajlo who recently attained the rank of Eagle Scout. • William Gomolka was hired for the position of Office Coordinator in the Public Works Department after the Village received over 200 applications. • An ordinance to grant five zoning variations for construction of an accessory transportation structure at Southwest Chicago Christian School in Tinley Park was unanimously passed after a positive recommendation from the Plan Commission on March 15. • Sikich LLP was authorized to conduct a fiscal year 2018 budget audit for an amount not to exceed $53,700. The firm was selected to conduct external audit and financial reporting services through 2021. • The board approved the issuance of a Request for Proposal for emergency medical services. The Village’s contract with current provider Kurtz Ambulance Service expires on July 31, 2018. Another Village of Tinley Park ethic complaint ‘unfounded’ Fourth investigation closed this year Cody Mroczka, Editor An ethics complaint filed by a Tinley Park attorney against several Village officials and staff was determined to be unfounded by an independent counselor, making it the fourth in the last three months to be closed without further action. According to an investigation report dated April 2 by attorney James J. Roche, of the Chicago law firm James J. Roche & Associates, a complaint filed by Stephen E. Eberhardt on Jan. 22 that alleged violations of Chapter 39 of the Village code was “nothing more than a technical error and oversight that was corrected and is therefore unfounded.” The complaint alleged Village Attorney Patrick Connelly, Village Clerk Kristin Thirion, Assistant Village Manager Pat Carr and Trustees Michael J. Pannitto, Brian Younker, Cynthia Berg, William Brady, Michael Glotz and Michael Mangin violated the code and Illinois state statutes by failing to timely investigate two other ethics complaints filed on Nov. 2 and 17 by clients of Eberhardt. The current code allows for up to 60 days to complete the investigation. The two referenced complaints filed by Karen Weigand were determined to be unfounded by investigations from other independent counsel. Additionally, a third anonymous complaint filed on Nov. 12 was also determined to be unfounded. The Village maintains a list of attorneys, approximately four with some alternates for conflicts of interest, according to Roche’s report. Nonetheless, the three complaints all filed within roughly two weeks appears to have caused the delay of independent investigations as well as other scheduling factors related to the approaching Thanksgiving holiday and one of the counselors requesting additional time to decide on whether or not to accept the assignment. According to Roche’s report, the counselor who requested additional time, attorney Kevin Cunningham, ultimately turned down the assignment and it was contracted to attorney Charles Hervas. The Village received the outcome of Weigand’s complaints on Feb. 23 and March 6, respectively. “While the allegations attempt to extend as far as to say that the delay was the result of the actions of certain Trustees, the evidence does not support that,” the report stated. “Mr. Connelly unequivocally stated that the delay was not intentional and was not at the request or coercion of any Trustee. Mr. Connelly admits the delay was of his doing -- he indicated that during the frame in which the two complaints at issue were received, he was the in the process of preparing a legal opinion, the attorneys on the approved list of independent counsel were not all available, and it was also the Thanksgiving holiday.” Eberhardt’s complaint included a list of seven questions that were reportedly answered, but redacted in the report. The specifics “of which Trustees contacted Mr. Connelly with legal questions; unless addressed in the public meetings, is privileged and therefore, was not disclosed in this investigation,” Roche wrote. “All Trustees denied ever requesting or in any way facilitating a willful or intentional delay in the investigation of any ethics complaints. In fact, none had any independent knowledge of a delay in any investigation or finding outside of what they learned in Mr. Eberhardt’s January 22, 2018 complaint,” according to Roche. The attorney also concluded that Connelly, as the Village Attorney, does not fall under the jurisdiction of the ethics code, which was not enacted “to punish unavoidable and unintentional delays.” “While the assignment of the two Complaints to local counsel and the investigations and determinations were delayed, the delay was not intentional, and it certainly wasn’t reckless,” Roche concluded. “In any event, Mr. Connelly provided reasonable explanations as to why there was a delay and further stated that there was no coercion from the Board of Trustees or Village Administration that led to the delayed investigation.” News the tinley junction | April 12, 2018 | 5 Tinley Park Plan Commission Prior written concerns highlight current issues with site Annexation request facing opposition from residents Cody Mroczka, Editor It was just after midnight on April 6 when the Tinley Park Plan Commission voted to continue rather than adjourn a public hearing that had already lasted well over four hours. A quorum of Commissioners came to a consensus that the advisory group needed more time to deliberate before offering a recommendation to the Board of Trustees on an annexation request that has drawn vocal opposition from nearby residents who cite concerns over traffic, safety and property values from Lenny’s Food and Fuel located at 19420 S. Harlem Avenue. Owner Leonard McEnery has petitioned the Village to annex a 4.87 acre parcel of property that currently operates as a diesel and regular fuel station, Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, car wash, Beggar’s Pizza carry out machine, and propane fueling station. The gas station was built in 2015 while the car wash was added in 2017. The parcels are located in unincorporated Will County and receive water and sewer services from Frankfort. The current businesses in operation would also need two Special Use permits to operate within Tinley Park. The agreement is contingent upon the Village rezoning the property from C-2 to B-3 and creating a new liquor license that would allow for the sale of packaged liquor as well as 24-hour video gaming in compliance with the Illinois Gaming Commission’s definition of a “truck stop.” The property is abutted by residential zoning to the west and commercial and business zoning to the north and south. According to staff documents, there are six establishments with adjacency to single family homes, but none currently allow 24- hour play. A point of dispute was in how many gas stations sell packaged liquor with the Planning Department report indicating only one, the Circle K at 8401 159th Street, a result of an annexation, while the petitioner countered with a claim of three currently operating in the Village. The Committee of the Whole reviewed the terms of the annexation contract on March 13 and directed staff to proceed to the zoning review process. Officials said the annexation could bring in $408,000 of revenue annually from sales, property, and video gaming taxes based on information provided by the petitioner. During the Plan Commission workshop on March 15 regarding the request, Com- Please see Commission, 11 New Bremen TIF ordinances indefinitely postponed Public hearing to continue on April 17 Cody Mroczka, Editor “We need to look forward, not backward. If you’re not pro-TIF, you’re not pro-growth. We need income. We need revenue. We need to get some wins.” Jim Fuentes — Tinley Park businessman The agenda for the April 3 Board of Trustees meeting featured four ordinances up for the first reading related to the Village’s New Bremen tax increment financing (TIF) district plans, but apparently that was a scheduling error. Trustees voted to unanimously postpone the ordinances related to the redevelopment project area, establishment of the New Bremen TIF, and dissolution of the Main Street South TIF, and continue the public hearing until April 17. Trustee Brian Younker was absent. Village officials wanted at least a two week buffer between the public hearing and first votes, meaning the earliest the Board would reconsider the ordinances would be the first meeting in May. Maureen Brady, of Ehlers and Associates, whom the Village contracted back in August of 2017 to complete the eligibility report and project plan, presented an outline of the district and Village’s goals. A Joint Board of Review, comprised of representatives from the taxing districts affected, met on March 1 and voted to recommend the project plan move forward. “There’s no changes between the redevelopment activities planned in the Main Street South TIF and the New Bremen TIF,” she said. “It creates a funding stream. It is not a tax increase.” The redevelopment project area (RPA) is generally bounded by 172nd Street on the north, 179th street on the south, 67th Avenue and 66th Court on the east, and 69th Avenue on the west in the downtown district. Ehlers and Associates determined the RPA met at lease five of a mandated three requirements to be eligible under Illinois’ TIF statutes under the designation of a “Conservation Area.” That specification requires that 50 percent or more of the structures in the area have reached an age of 35 years or more. Accordingly, the New Bremen RPA qualified under the definitions of obsolescence, deterioration, inadequate utilities, lack of community planning, and lagging equalized assessed value. There was a mix of both supporters and opponents, with business owners and taxing entity representatives comprising the supporters, and residents opposing what would be the Village’s six TIF during the hearing. The Oak Park Avenue TIF, adopted in 1994 and amended in 2008, is set to expire later this year after successful development projects surrounding the Tinley Park Convention Center. However, Village Manager David Neimeyer said the Village would have to look at ways to continue making that corridor economically viable. Jim Fuentes, a State Farm insurance agent who described himself as the “Mayor of Oak Park Avenue,” was adamant that tax incentives were necessary to spur economic growth in the downtown corridor. “We need to look forward, not backward. If you’re not pro-TIF, you’re not progrowth,” he said. “We need income. We need revenue. We need to get some wins. Tinley Park needs to be merchant friendly. Let’s get it done.” Rudy Visser said he was not a resident, but was representing the Harald Viking Lodge located within the proposed boundaries, and was actually a retired TIF consultant himself. Visser said he produced “hundreds” of project redevelopment plans like the one prepared for the Village by Ehlers and Associates. He said the report was thorough and well prepared, and perhaps even conservative. “I think they went light on the findings,” he said. “Overall, I think they did a great job.” One resident questioned whether tax increment financing was the only solution to perceived blight and lagging economic growth. “The blighted conditions were caused by former owners of the properties,” he said. “It forces taxing bodies to seek money somewhere else. We need to look at alternatives.” Another citizen requested more thorough financial documentation related to how TIF funds are collected, remitted and distributed among the taxing entities as well as the Village. The public hearing is scheduled to continue on April 17. TIF details The proposed 89-acre, 23- year TIF would encompass a majority of the Main Street South TIF and project redevelopment area, which would be dissolved upon adoption of the redevelopment plan and establishing the new boundaries. The revelopment project area consists of 273 tax parcels, representing 224 parcels of land, of which 62 percent contain one or more primary buildings while 38 percent of the parcels are currently vacant. The total estimated cost of the projects is estimated at approximately $200 million with the largest estimated costs including $75.8 million for the construction of public works or improvements, $33.75 million for financing, $19 million for the costs of building rehabilitation, repair or remodeling, and $18.9 million for property assembly costs.