Westchester trustees OK bonds
Updated: March 1, 2013 6:24AM
WESTCHESTER — Village trustees Monday authorized a bond issue of up to $8 million to fund public infrastructure projects, including improvements to roads, bridges and sidewalks.
Village Manager Janey Matthys said the village, which has a $4.4 million reserve fund, didn’t plan to spend anywhere near the entire $8 million for the projects, which also include waste disposal systems and water and sewer lien extensions.
Still, resident Ellen Waters voiced concern about the village’s ability to pay down debt, citing recent reports involving smaller communities exploiting tax loopholes, and putting themselves into financial trouble.
Matthys said debt would be paid through a 1 percentage point home-rule tax approved by voters in November. Both Matthys and Trustee Brian Sloan assured residents the village has strict guidelines in place to ensure proceeds from a bond issue will be used exclusively for public infrastructure projects.
In other business, trustees:
• voted 5-2 to approve a collective bargaining agreement between the Metropolitan Alliance of Police and Westchester police. Village President Sam Pulia and Trustee Walter Novak voted against the agreement, with Pulia citing concerns about the leniency in the agreement relating to alcohol intake prior to going on shift. A former law enforcement officer, Pulia said police should be held to the highest standards possible, and called for a stipulation where officers would have zero alcohol intake within 24 hours of starting a shift. The current bylaw allows 0.05 blood-alcohol level within that time frame.
• sought ways to generate revenue from special events. Trustees discussed sponsoring festivals around Cinco de Mayo, a summer concert and Octoberfest event, but selecting an appropriate venue remains a sticking point. The village hosts a classic car show on Mondays during the summer at 31st and Wolf Road, which is usually well attended. Pulia said Gladstone Park remains a logical venue to host local festivals. Trustee Paul Gattuso said the village needs to successfully “pull off” a handful of festivals throughout the year to build a reputation with Westchester residents and those from other towns.
• heard Pulia is scouting for a venue to relocate the village’s Fourth of July fireworks, currently held at St. Joseph High School. The school’s proximity to residential homes has become a safety issue, with pyrotechnics possibly landing in nearby yards. Pulia said one local alterative is Proviso West High School, but several trustees indicated that site is too remote and in Hillside, not Westchester.