The River Forest Village Board on March 30 provided some relief to village residents and businesses dealing with the effects of steps taken by local, state and federal officials to address the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trustees voted 5-1 to ratify two executive orders by Village President Cathy Adduci, one that suspended restrictions on hours of deliveries to businesses in the village and the other that made various operational changes, including waiver of late fees and parking fees and extending payment deadlines without penalties and adjudication dates. Deliveries to businesses were previously limited to between 7 a.m. and midnight.
The changes are in effect through May 31.
Trustee Tom Cargie, who had argued during the meeting that the effective date be earlier, cast the negative vote. He noted the earlier expiration dates for President Donald Trump’s guidelines for the nation and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s orders for the state regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned why the village executive orders should be in effect longer.
Adduci defended the later expiration date, claiming that “residents will still be hurting” even if the pandemic and related restrictions end earlier.
“We’re trying to help our residents,” she said, noting relief will have only a “minimal” impact on the budget. “I think this is a great list that will go a long way. I’ve already heard from residents thanking us.”
Taking advantage of Pritzker’s order that waives the Open Meetings Act requirement that a quorum must be “physically present,” all six trustees participated in the March village board meeting by telephone, although Adduci, Clerk Kathleen Brand-White and staff members, including Administrator Eric Palm, were present physically at village hall.
Under the executive order, service disconnections for water service and refuse service are suspended; fines for late payments and non-payments for water service and refuse service are suspended; security deposits required to establish new water service may be deferred by village staff if the new customer demonstrates financial hardship; and water meter replacements are suspended unless an emergency replacement is needed.
In addition, a yellow tag will not be required for refuse items that exceed the allowable capacity if the items are placed in a garbage bag; the due date for ambulance bills will be extended from 30 days to 60 days after being issued; and collection of ambulance bills and judgments on ordinance violations, including red light camera fees, is suspended.
Also, the daily parking fee at the village commuter lot and the monthly parking permit fees whether for commuter, overnight or 24-hour passes are suspended and the time period for overnight parking waivers may be extended to 30 days from the current three days.
After a question from Trustee Katie Brennan revealed that those requesting overnight parking waivers will not be able to request a waiver for more than three days without making multiple telephone calls, Palm said the intent was to allow 30 days, adding, “We’ll fix it.”
Adjudication hearings rescheduled
In addition, peddlers’ and solicitors’ licenses are temporarily revoked to slow down person-to-person contact. Also, hearing dates for red-light camera tickets and ordinance violations have been rescheduled.
Red-light camera ticket hearings for March 25 and April 22 have been continued to May 27 and ordinance violation hearings for April 6 and May 4 are continued to June 1.
For businesses, license and registration issuance and renewable payments will not be due until June 30 and the payment of the places of eating tax for the period of March 23 through May 30 will not be due until June 20.
The ad hoc deer management committee in River Forest is finally at full strength, but it apparently will be a while before all 13 members can meet.
The village board voted 6-0 on March 30 to confirm Village President Cathy Adduci’s appointment of Marta Kozbur, capping a convoluted process that began last year.
The board agreed to create an 11-member committee on Jan. 13, then voted Feb. 24 to confirm Adduci’s appointment of 11 members to the committee, but informally agreed to add two more members.
After approving the expansion of the committee to 13 members on March 9, the trustees approved the appointment of Julie Armstrong but rejected the appointment of Marta Kozbur’s husband, Askold.
The committee held its first meeting on Feb. 26, but a second meeting has yet to be held. A meeting scheduled for April 1 was cancelled.
In recent years, deer sightings have been on the rise, and the village has been getting an increasing number of complaints about landscaping damage, tick-borne diseases and deer droppings in residents’ yards.