Good governance demands fiscal responsibility and accountability. In these financially challenging times, the need for fiscally responsible and accountable leadership has never been greater.

In the last two years, the current VMA-majority board has implemented these principles with civility, discipline and transparency. The Citizens for Responsible Leadership slate, including three current board members, will continue that difficult and challenging work in the next four years.

The property tax burden is one that weighs heavily on all of us in Oak Park. We must continue to tightly manage the village budget in the face of major challenges. Only 12 cents of every property tax dollar goes to the village, so we must ensure that every penny is spent responsibly while maintaining essential services.

With 80 percent of the village budget obligated to pay salaries, pensions and other benefits, the board has to make tough decisions about how to allocate the remaining available resources. Already experienced in managing large budgets, the CRL candidates pledge to contain spending and plan wisely to ensure fiscal sustainability and the delivery of quality services.

The current board has reversed the course of reckless financial decisions made in prior years by trustees elected by our opposition. In less than two years this board:

Shaved a combined total of $6 million from the proposed 2008 and 2009 budgets

Returned more than $500,000 worth of village-owned property to the tax rolls with millions more in pending sales

Overcame our opposition’s obstructionism to open Trader Joe’s, a key element in a project expected to generate more than $1 million in 2009 sales and property taxes

Held the line on staff salaries and other village expenditures, keeping budgets balanced and restoring a modest cash fund balance that had disappeared under previous boards

Enhanced the planned development guidelines that require broad-based community input and high returns on investment

The CRL candidates are committed to continuing fiscal responsibility in the following ways:

Practicing prudent fiscal management – living within our means

Revamp budgeting process to ensure deliberations are based on complete and accurate information

Intensify expenditure oversight

Prioritize infrastructure projects having significant outside funding

Invest in projects beneficial to Oak Park’s future viability

Scrutinize cost effectiveness system-wide

Increasing effectiveness
and productivity at village hall

Insist on a consumer-driven approach to the provision of village services

Establish benchmarks and timelines for concrete, measurable performance improvements

Pursue greater efficiencies in current organizational structure

Promoting cost-cutting with
school boards and other taxing bodies

Further Council of Governments’ efforts to identify redundant services and pursue cost-cutting strategies

Continue support for the inter-governmental financial advisory council to facilitate transparent and coordinated financial planning.

Tough times require tough leaders willing to make tough decisions. When it comes to safeguarding fiscal responsibility, the CRL slate is the clear choice for all of Oak Park.

Candidates running for the Oak Park village board on the Citizens for Responsible Leadership slate include Colette Lueck, John Hedges and Glenn Brewer for trustee, David Pope for president and Teresa Powell for clerk.

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