Peter Breen: Village moving forward with effective measures
A new chapter started in Lombard recently after the loss of our beloved leader, Village President Bill Mueller.
Our transition took two meetings and some thoughtful debate to provide for a plan of succession. During this time, we had an opportunity to address ensuring succession in the future is a planned action rather than a reaction to a sudden vacancy.
The state and federal governments continue to squeeze resources from local governments as they cope with deficits caused by their own unwillingness to live within their means. Our village is acting much like our residents are: If we cannot afford it, we’re not buying it.
I recently instituted a line-by-line audit of our annual budget to look for as much efficiency as we can. I’m pleased to report that this process has yielded significant savings and will be an ongoing effort.
As a result of our Village Board transparency policy, our village put all of our vital information — spending, salaries, tax rates and more — on our website for every taxpayer to see. In response, the Illinois Policy Institute recently issued Lombard a perfect score of 100 percent for transparency. Being designated as the top-ranked municipality in Illinois for openness and transparency is something of which every resident can be proud.
The Village Board is putting money back into the pockets of residents in other ways, too. We brought electric aggregation to the village via referendum, cutting our electric rates almost in half — and achieving these savings while also using 100 percent renewable energy. We’ve eliminated an ineffective annual “dog tax” and will soon allow our pet owners to register their pets online, at no charge, so lost pets can be returned to their owners.
We’re also focusing on making life more convenient for Lombard residents. Very soon, residents will be able to pay their water bills online, saving many a trip to the village.
As well, when the state banned electronics in household trash, Lombard responded with a free monthly recycling program. We’ve also created an Electrical Reliability Task Force to address our far too frequent power outages suffered by Lombard homes and businesses.
Finally, we have also adopted term limits for elected officials in Lombard, with 81 percent of voters in favor in a high turnout election cycle. It is our hope that other governmental bodies will follow our lead and offer people a voice on term-limit measures to prevent the inappropriate accumulation of power by a handful of elected officials.
Our Village Board has made excellent progress on these initiatives and many others. We all believe that there is still plenty of improvement possible, and we are committed to living up to the privilege of serving our fellow residents.
In the meantime, I remind all of our residents that every dollar spent in our community helps keep property taxes in check, because there is a direct correlation between sales tax dollars generated and lower local property taxes. We encourage everyone to support our local businesses.
Peter Breen is acting village president for the village of Lombard
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