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Toughest challenge in 2010? NW suburban mayors say it's money
Daily Herald Staff Report

Civic leaders are hoping 2010 will bring less snow, which will mean fewer workers on overtime and less salt to buy.


Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2009

If the economy doesn't improve, festivals, like the Wheeling Fourth of July, could continue to be cut back.


Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, 2009

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Published: 1/4/2010 12:08 AM

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Arlene Mulder, Arlington Heights: Our biggest challenge we share with our residents, the financial challenges that the economy has presented to all of us trying to balance our budgets while meeting the basic services and the services that people have become accustomed to.

Karen Darch, Barrington: How best to allocate my time as there are many competing worthwhile issues and opportunities facing Barrington and it is always a challenge to decide if enough attention is directed in the best way.

Robert Abboud, Barrington Hills: Our patrol officers are right in the process of forming a union. The patrol officers have not made a demand yet, we're a little surprised because they're some of the highest-compensated patrol officers in the state. They have the best benefits. They don't pay any of their health care, we pay 100 percent. It's not entirely clear what their motive is, but it will make for some very difficult decisions.

Michael E. Kelly, Bartlett: Allocation of resources. Our population and demand for services continues to grow as income to the village declines. I reject quick revenue fixes such as video gambling and red-light cameras and will not support tax increases. As a dollar can be stretched only so far, our board will have to make tough decisions regarding services. Lastly, the downtown center remains a conundrum, and empty storefronts are unacceptable. The long-standing plan does not work, and the challenge to our board and the business district is to determine and implement whatever changes are needed to make downtown viable.

Elliott Hartstein, Buffalo Grove: If we see economic turnaround and things moving in the right direction, which I do expect based on most projections, some of the toughest decisions will be deciding priorities and which if any needed infrastructure improvements we should invest in the short term and how to pay for them without putting our budget at risk. If things do not improve economically, the toughest decisions will be what changes we need to make to be able to serve our citizens, and how to downsize or rightsize to make sure essential services and needs in the community are met without imposing any economic burdens on our residents.

Robert Kellermann, Deer Park: After many years of deficit spending and failure to invest in the village's infrastructure, the greatest challenge the village of Deer Park faces is to establish a balanced budget while at the same time realigning spending priorities to address chronic road problems. The challenge is heightened under current economic conditions by the slowdown in tax revenues. This lack of spending on roads has been a divisive issue in the village that must be addressed moving forward.

Martin Moylan, Des Plaines: Some of the toughest decisions that will need to be addressed will most likely occur in regards to the development of the 2011 budget. With the state of the economy rather unpredictable, the city may be faced with some of the same financial challenges that we encountered this year. Concerned with maintaining city services to our residents, we will again have to prioritize our resources. Retaining and enhancing jobs in our own community remain a priority and consideration will need to be given to the local work force whenever possible.

Craig Johnson, Elk Grove Village: The tough part is getting through these tough financial times. We are proud to be the only town that has not raised property taxes for three years running. But that can't last forever. We need to see some turnaround in this economy. But until then, we will work hard to walk that fine line of providing the best services for Elk Grove and protect the taxpayers as much as we can.

Rodney Craig, Hanover Park: Like many government bodies, managing costs while performing vital services will be our toughest challenge. As our state legislators struggle to manage the $11.5 billion debt, the municipal challenge will be to function independently of any expectation for state support. We will be evaluating our priorities based upon the needs of our residents and their quality of life. The real need will be to encourage the American spirit that resides within each of us to creatively reinvent our business practices and social expectations in a changing economy.

William McLeod, Hoffman Estates: Even with the economic recession, the village of Hoffman Estates continues to provide exceptional public services albeit with reduced resources. This economic pressure will into continue into 2010 and potentially into 2011 and beyond. Tough decisions regarding 2010 have already been made by the village board and we will closely monitor financial issues throughout the coming year. The village is however beginning to see the first signs of recovery on the horizon.

Jack Tatooles, Inverness: The Village is not immune to the negative economic conditions being felt in the region. We have experienced deep cuts in intergovernmental revenues and fees associated with development activity. As we do the budget for 2010, some hard decisions will need to be made concerning programs and service levels. We will need to focus more on our core functions of public safety and infrastructure maintenance.

Kevin Richardson, Lake Barrington: Like many communities, businesses and families, the Village will need to face the challenges associated with economically difficult times. Armed with a strong balance sheet, Lake Barrington is well positioned to weather the current economic storm, though pressures on permit and tax revenues will require tough, but thoughtful, choices on spending. The Village is committed to maintaining fiscal discipline while continuing to provide residents with important municipal services that support the community's quality of life.

Maria Rodriguez, Long Grove: Like every other municipality, we cut quite a bit in our budget this year and we may have to cut more next year. We're also praying it doesn't snow much.

Irvana Wilks, Mount Prospect: Keeping our eyes on the economy, we must continue to make difficult budgetary decisions. We will do our best to provide services which residents and businesses of the Village of Mount Prospect expect, but we must be watchful stewards of the Village's finances.

Jim Schwantz, Palatine: If the economy does not start a slow recovery, the stress on our already lean budget will cause widespread program modifications and/or elimination including changes that may impact the public health, safety and welfare of our community.

Dolly Vole, Prospect Heights: Our toughest decision will be anything economically based. Since we receive no city property tax, our budget depends on sales tax, permit fees and income taxes. If the economy doesn't turn around, we will have no funds. We had to furlough employees in 2009 and raise the rates for city stickers in 2010.

Ken Nelson, Rolling Meadows: If the economy does not improve, then the toughest decision will be what services to cut. We are entering 2010 with a bare-bones city budget. Our only product is service, and service requires people. Any future budget reductions will mean reduced staffing and reduced services.

Bradley Stephens, Rosemont: I hope that the economy would be strong enough that we wouldn't have to look at any reductions in work force the way so many other municipalities have been forced to do.

Al Larson, Schaumburg: I don't foresee a decision as hard as this year's in starting a property tax. We thought we had enough reserves to ride out the recession, as we've done before. But it was more dire than we expected. But then people were reacting as if we caused the recession. We were trying to hold out for a resurgence.

Kathleen Leitner, Tower Lakes: The toughest decision for Tower Lakes in 2010 will be budgeting. We are fortunate in this economy not to rely on sales taxes, but property tax collections for 2010 are expected to be significantly lower as a result of a high number of Tower Lakes property assessment appeals.

Judy Abruscato, Wheeling: The slowdown in the economy has caused us to cut services and we will probably have to do it again. We lost the Freedom Fest, the Fourth of July parade and even the Fourth of July fireworks for this year. We will have to make more cuts like these.