River Forest is poised to join the ranks of municipalities that employ a lobbyist.

At the Aug. 9 village board meeting, officials authorized Lisa Scheiner, acting village administrator, to solicit proposals for lobbying and consulting services. A timetable and anticipated expense were not discussed. After the meeting, Scheiner speculated that the expense could be around $60,000 annually. 

As a member of the West Central Municipal Conference (WCMC) and the Illinois Municipal League (IML), River Forest benefits from lobbying services those two organizations provide. However, Scheiner noted that those lobbying efforts are performed on behalf of all WCMC and IML members and not specifically for River Forest. She also said those lobbying efforts are usually associated with a general issue and not specific to individual interests of member municipalities.

In addition to lobbying on legislative issues, Scheiner anticipates the firm or individual the village is seeking would assist with efforts to obtain grant funding. 

“The ability to secure grants and funding at the state and federal levels is often difficult, and the landscape is extremely competitive,” she said in a memo to the board. “Grant funds, for example, serve as an alternative source of funding for projects that alleviate the pressure on the village’s budget while providing important improvements within the community.

“The village is not seeking to hire a lobbyist for any particular project, rather, for assistance in building relationships with key legislative and regulatory officials and their staffs to advance the interests of the community and potentially secure funding for village projects. This agreement would augment the work that is already performed by village staff and officials and provide advocacy for issues specific to River Forest.”

In backing the effort, Village President Cathy Adduci said, “We’re missing opportunities.” 

In response to a question from Trustee Respicio Vazquez, Scheiner said the lobbyist would be expected to advocate for the village at the state and federal levels.

Vazquez joined Trustees Erika Bachner, Lisa Gillis, Ken Johnson and Bob O’Connell in expressing support for the effort. Trustee Katie Brennan admitted to being “a little more tepid” about the move but deferred to the consensus of her fellow officials.

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