When you asked for more collaboration, we were listening.

Collectively, all six Oak Park elected boards heard the citizen call for more collaboration to reduce expenses and derive the maximum benefit of taxpayer dollars. In 2011, in response to that call, each board assigned members to IGOV, an advisory body whose representatives are tasked with identifying and discussing opportunities for intergovernmental cooperation to reduce expenses, promote efficiencies of scale, and explore the sharing of facilities, personnel, and processes as templates for future taxing body collaboration. 

Once identified, these opportunities are communicated to the full boards of each taxing body for further consideration.

One of the first things IGOV identified was a long history of intergovernmental cooperation in Oak Park on which to build. For example, the village provides fuel for vehicles of the local taxing bodies and maintains vehicles for the park district and the Elmwood Park, River Forest, Oak Park Dispatch Center, and Oak Park Township staffs. In addition, a longstanding agreement for the Youth Interventionist program cuts across various taxing bodies and provides invaluable services for at-risk youth and their families.

Over the past year, IGOV discussions have focused on the use of the Oak Park FYI newsletter, the potential benefits of a “government center,” support for the Collaboration for Early Childhood, and the efficacy of shared technology purchases and systems. The information gathered will be the basis for future action. 

Collaboration can be challenging, but it leads to the serious intergovernmental discussions fundamental to progress.

This process of discovery is vital as it promotes intergovernmental staff relationships and information analysis about current and future needs through multiple lenses. If action is taken, the final proposal will not be the one on the table initially, as it will always be informed by citizen input, but outside-the-box thinking can only take place when it is met by open minds that allow the process to be fully developed. 

The current collaborative effort is in its nascent stage, with relationships strengthening, emerging issues identified, and the OP FYI used as a vehicle for information sharing from all taxing bodies to all citizens. 

Going forward, we commit to sound fiscal stewardship and intergovernmental partnerships. The patience of citizens as we seek collaborative endeavors is important, as is their constructive feedback. 

We look forward to hearing more ideas from all quarters, which can lead to collaboration and better management of our collective tax burden. The meetings are posted and open to the public.

Jim Gates and Denise Sacks, District 97

Steve Gevinson and Jeff Weissglass, District 200 

Janet Kelenson and David Sokol, OP Public Library

Paul Aeschelman and Vic Guarino, Park District

Clairmarie Keenan and Ade Onayemi, OP Township

Peter Barber, Ray Johnson and Colette Lueck,
OP village board

Recording Secretary: Teresa Powell, village clerk

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