Typically buried on the consent agenda of Oak Park’s village board meetings are the dozens and dozens of contracts the village lets each year for every kind of service possible in municipal government. Street paving. IT repair. Streetscape consultants. Legal counsel. Temporary department heads.
In an era of outsourcing, an increasing percentage of tax dollars are outsourced, too. While we understand that generally, we admit to being surprised by the report that fully one-third of the Oak Park village budget — about $50 million — goes into contracts.
So it is a good idea that the village board has formed a new contract review subcommittee. The sole purpose of this entity is to train a sharp eye on the contracts, which have been bid out at the direction of the board, reviewed by staff, and then sent back to the full board for a stamp of approval.
Trustee Adam Salzman says he is borrowing the idea from the Cook County government where he now works as chief of staff to Commissioner Richard Boykin. That Oak Park is lifting a good government idea from Cook County is remarkable and positive.
Salzman points out that, with village staffing already sharply reduced, saving on contracted services is the best place to look for further efficiencies.