LaGrange Park looks ahead to balance costs with revenues
LaGrange Park Village Manager Julia Cedillo (right) checks a report with members of her team, assistant manager Emily Rodman and administrative assistant Andrea Bagley. | Jane Michaels~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:56AM
LAGRANGE PARK — With April municipal elections approaching, we sat down with village administrators to ask about issues facing their communities. Julia Cedillo was named LaGrange Park village manager in July 2011, after serving as the assistant manager since 2008.
Q. Can you briefly describe the top three issues that La Grange faces?
A. Fiscal sustainability, aging infrastructure and economic development. We are still reeling from the impacts of the recession. While our revenues are projected to go up a little, they certainly have not bounced back to our past years’ experience. In our local revenue study process, we’ll look at fees we charge, efficiencies in the services we provide and other revenue opportunities. We’re an older community, so our roads are in need of repair and it’s important to maximize the life of our water and sewer systems. We need to maximize the dollars we have available, whether from operating funds, Motor Fuel Tax funds or grants.
Q. Given the economy, how would you describe LaGrange Park’s fiscal situation?
A. In the short term, village finances are stable. In the long term, sustainability is our challenge with stagnant revenues. We are a lean organization with less then 50 employees providing an array of services. Our costs are going up when our revenues are not recovering at the same rate. We’re looking at fees to be commensurate with the cost of services we provide. We’ve done a good job with seeking grants, and our lobbyist has helped with that.
Q. What is LaGrange Park doing to promote economic development?
A. We’re putting together an action plan with assistant village manger Emily Rodman, also a certified planner, working with the commercial revitalization committee. We’re creating a data base and inventory to understand the space being used, what’s available and who to call. Our goal is to have all that information on our website. It’s critically important to build a relationship with our businesses to understand their needs and goals.
Q. How is the state’s pension crisis affecting LaGrange Park?
A. Anytime a state government is under financial stress, any assistance or aid to municipalities becomes limited and rare. We see the potential for whatever’s out there to erode away.
Q. Do you think LaGrange Park is doing a good job conducting its business transparently?
A. Yes. We welcome people to attend meetings to hear the Village Board and have the opportunity to comment. It’s very important to the board that our website is up to date and resources are available, such as the board packet, the five-year plan and our major projects, such as the flood mitigation report, the commercial revitalization action plan, or electrical aggregation. We want residents to be a part of the process of governance. We can’t have that if our residents are not informed.