Oak Park axes $190K for desks, furniture

Trustees say village hall furniture not ready to be scrapped

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The Oak Park Board of Trustees voted earlier this month to put the brakes on a plan by village staff to spend $190,000 on new desks, chairs and other furniture for the offices on the second floor of village hall.

The vote on the proposal was split, with Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb and trustees Bob Tucker and Jim Taglia voting in favor of the appropriation and trustees Deno Andrews, Simone Boutet, Andrea Button and Dan Moroney voting no.

Moroney said he took a tour of village hall to review the furniture on the second floor and noted that most of the furniture he saw looked to be in good condition.

He said furniture and office equipment that has already been purchased for the first floor of village hall looks good – an appropriation approved prior to his taking office – he did not believe the second floor offices needed an upgrade.

"The furniture I saw, while not perfect, does have useful life remaining and, therefore, I would like to see us live with what we have," Moroney said. 

"Moroney added that "it's a good example to all the taxing bodies to not have this addiction to new [equipment]."

Andrews, who also toured village hall, said he did not feel comfortable spending $190,000 of taxpayer money on furniture that is not necessary.

"At some point we have to draw a line in the sand and say, "$190,000 for furniture that's not necessary is an overreach," Andrews said. "It's our job to be fiscal stewards of taxpayer money, not to just spend it, you know, without any constraints.

"I don't feel comfortable spending $200,000 on the second floor of village hall when I looked at it today and would take half of those desks that are going to be replaced and use it as my own."

The contract for the $190,000 would have gone to Forward Space LLC and Office Concepts to purchase the new furniture and new carpeting.

The money was earmarked for the last phase of a project to overhaul the look and feel of village hall, according to a staff memo. 

A previous board of trustees authorized $270,000 to Forward Space, according to the village. 

That appropriation included improvements to the front lobby, updating conference rooms, rehabbing the front entrance to village hall, additional seating in conference rooms, installation of new carpeting and remodeling of the council chambers.

Trustee Andrea Button questioned whether the village could purchase what is needed when furniture is no longer usable by employees.

"Can we buy this on our own if it's necessary?" she said, adding that she was comfortable putting off the expenditure for a year.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: September 19th, 2017 10:20 PM

Andrea Button - glad you voted NO, but to be clear, no one ever needs a new desk. If you want confirmation, ask any village employee if they want either a new desk or a pay raise and no one will ever want a new desk. Frankly the carpet can be shabby, the front entrance is fine for another 50 years as is, and the conference rooms can be spartan. No need for any luxuries in city hall on our dime.

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: September 19th, 2017 4:15 PM

AMEN!!!

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