The Oak Park Board of Trustees approved a plan at the Oct. 16 board meeting to spend $8.7 million in 2018 on infrastructure improvements for streets, alleys, technology and other capital improvements in the village.
The Capital Improvement Plan is not yet a green light for spending the funds, but rather a guideline for village staff to begin planning for projects that will take place next year.
The plan was approved by a vote of 4-3, with trustees Simone Boutet, Deno Andrews and Dan Moroney voting against the plan. All three trustees who voted against the proposal argued that the plan includes projects that needed greater scrutiny.
Trustees who supported approving the so-called CIP reminded new trustees that the document, which includes dozens of projects, is for planning purposes only and expenditures could later be stripped from the budget, which is expected to be approved in December.
Members of the board have spent weeks discussing the CIP in committee, and directed Village Manager Cara Pavlicek and staff to cut $1 million from the proposal earlier this month.
The projects removed from the CIP include improvements to the main Oak Park Fire Station, replacement of furniture in village hall, replacement of some street furniture and plans to spend $200,000 to install a new elevator in village hall, among others.
Trustee Bob Tucker told trustees reluctant to approve the plan that rejecting the proposal would be "penny wise and pound foolish" because it gives staff time to plan for road, alley and other vital improvements.
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek said establishing a spending plan now allows village planners to better coordinate infrastructure projects – street repaving for example – with local schools as well as getting request for proposals out sooner to bid. She noted that the village competes with other municipalities in Cook County for contractors and getting bids out sooner results in a better array of bidders.
"They save us a lot of money by doing that," Tucker said.
Trustee Deno Andrews, who has participated in board meetings discussing the CIP over the last several weeks, said he was not comfortable voting on the plan because it includes projects such as the plan to reduce the number of traffic lanes on Madison Street near Oak Park Avenue and bend a section of the road to make way for a proposed large multi-building development. That project is slated to cost roughly $13 million over the next two years, according to the CIP.
"I don't know if I endorse the bend or not or the road diet," he said, adding that voting for the CIP could be seen as an endorsement by constituents.
Trustee Dan Moroney said the village is facing a $6 million increase in the property tax levy and that cutting a million from the CIP was a good start, but more cuts need to happen before he could approve the plan.
Oak Park Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb reminded trustees that the CIP was just a road map for spending and not a commitment of funds.
Though much of the focus over the proposal was on projects slated for funding in 2018, the CIP is a five-year plan. The cost of most projects in the out years are simply estimates.
Answer Book 2018
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