The Examiner U-46 News Feed
Local taxing bodies, sans U-46 tout achievements
By Joe Hyland
The annual joint meeting of the various taxing bodies in the village was hosted by the Fire Protection District on Wednesday, April 10. Representatives of the Bartlett fire protection, park and library districts were in attendance. In addition, the village, Hanover Township and Elgin Community College (ECC) sent representatives. Wayne Township was not in attendance. In addition, the 800-pound gorilla in the property tax room, School District U-46, did not send a representative.
“Gosh, it looks like it's a bit of a lighter crowd today,” said Fire Protection District Board President Jim McCarthy in welcoming the participants.
McCarthy went on to note that the annual meeting gave the various taxing bodies an opportunity to update each other on their achievements over the past year, as well as to discuss possible ways to save taxpayer dollars during the coming year.
First up was Paula Amenta from ECC's Community Engagement and Legislative Affairs Department.
Amenta noted that the state of the economy had an inverse effect on enrollment at ECC.
“As the economy improves, our enrollment goes down,” said Amenta.
Amenta reported on two achievements.
The first was the college's dual credit program. In this program, high school juniors and seniors who are deemed college-ready can attend ECC on Mondays through Thursdays to take college courses. Amenta said that the program will see its first graduating class on Friday, May 17. Students will actually receive an associate's degree before they receive their high school diplomas later in the month.
“I would say that's one of the big highlights,” Amenta said.
Amenta also touted the college's efforts to help students avoid loan debt, that she said is now estimated at $1.3 trillion nationally. She said that those students seeking a loan are required to undergo a one-to-one session with a loan counselor.
“You'd be surprised how many think that's a grant,” Amenta said.
Amenta reported that the program is already showing results.
“We have cut the number of loans by 55 percent,” Amenta said. “So we feel like that's really important.”
Next up was Village Administrator Paula Schumacher. She reported on efforts the village is making at partnerships with other governmental bodies, in particular noting that the fire district allowed the village to use its apparatus for fit testing of respirators.
“That was a big thing for us to check off,” Schumacher said. “The more opportunity we have to do that (referring to partnerships), the better off we all are.”
Schumacher also noted that the police department will be conducting active shooter programs for local businesses.
“We're working with the Chamber of Commerce on that,” Schumacher said.
The main achievement, however, is the nearly finished Lake Michigan water pipeline. Schumacher said that the finishing touches are being placed on the pipeline, with a completion date sometime in May.
Park District Commissioner Lori Palmer had some good news.
“We just received a $400,000 grant from the IDNR (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) for the inclusive playground at Bartlett Park,” Palmer said, noting that the district is now projecting completion of the playground for the summer of 2020.
Palmer also noted that the district is getting ready for its busy outdoor season.
Palmer also reported that the district still needs summer employees, and needs, among other personnel, 25 more lifeguards.
Library Executive Director Karolyn Nance reported that library staff had also undergone active shooter training. She said that the turnout for the library's spring event had been good, with an estimated 250 people in attendance. Nance said that the library is planning a patron appreciation day around Thanksgiving.
Nance also reported that the library will be putting together and issuing its first-ever annual report sometime later this year.
Next was Chief Mike Falese. He reported on the district's “Close the Door” campaign which urges people to keep interior doors closed in order to limit the damage in the event of a fire. He said that two recent structure fires had illustrated the effectiveness of the initiative. Doors from, in one case a laundry room, and in the other a garage, had drastically limited damage from the fires. Falese said that pictures on the department's web page showed this graphically.
“So we actually saw the effect of those closed doors up close and personal,” Falese said.
Falese said that the district's finances were seeing some effect from an ongoing slippage in insurance, Medicare and Medicaid payments for ambulance runs. Falese said that the department is trying to expand the range of facilities to which it can transport a patient. He said that currently ambulances are only allowed to transport patients to emergency rooms.
Falese also said that the district is placing an emphasis on moving funds after the recent successful referendum into its emergency fund in order to plan for future capital expenses.
Finally, Falese said that during the next 16 months the district will be seeing retirements of some top level personnel. McCarthy said that one of those would be Falese.
“It's been a blessing to have him all these years,” McCarthy said.
The last item on the agenda was setting the date for next year's meeting as April 8, 2020 was selected and the village will host.