Oak Park has gone more than three years without its environmental sustainability manager, having chosen to eliminate funding for the position when the position became vacant in 2014.
Since then, the village has worked to encourage neighboring communities and other taxing bodies, such as the local school districts and the Park District of Oak Park, to help fund the position.
Oak Park called the plan i-ECO, an acronym for intergovernmental community organization. But at Monday night's village board meeting, trustees inched closer to abandoning the idea is now poised to return to funding the sustainability manager position.
In 2016, the village issued a request for qualifications for environmental organizations to help establish i-ECO and received two responses.
"While both respondents offered unique professional services to support the formations of a not-for-profit organization along with development of mission, vision, organizational structure, operating budget and legal structure, the associated fees were significantly different," according to the village. "Specifically the base fees for services ranged from $59,535 to $102,815."
The time needed to form this kind of not-for-profit organization made the village reconsider this approach and consider returning to its original strategy of funding a full-time position at Village Hall.
Trustee Colette Lueck voiced opposition to reinstating the position because the ordinance did not clearly define what the position would entail.
"There's no way I can vote for this because I don't know what this person is supposed to do," she said.
Nick Bridge, chairman of the village's Energy & Environment Commission, said environmental initiatives in the village have "lain fallow because of a lack of staffing" since the position was eliminated.
He said other taxing bodies were less incented to participate because their focus – running the schools and parks, for instance – is much narrower than that of the village.