Library Improvements Off to 'Worrying Start'
Councilman concerned about the transparency and efficiency in which the city is handling library update.
Summer is upon us, and work continues on the many challenges facing the City of Highland Park. My priorities as Councilman remain to improve core city services, minimize taxpayer costs and protect our environment. In different ways, I have focused on these themes in recent months.
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Library Improvements Start Without Needed Taxpayer Protections
The City recently started some exciting multi-year, multi-million dollar improvements to the Public Library. The result will be a more modern, user-friendly facility, and I fully support these improvements. But with any City project, especially of this size, it is critical that we protect taxpayers by minimizing costs and maximizing transparency and accountability. In this regard, we are off to a worrying start.
I supported the City Council's use of over $1 million in reserve funds for this year's library improvements. However, my support depended on two Council commitments. First, we committed to analyze back office operations between the City and Library. This analysis is the first step in consolidating duplicative services like accounting, human resources and IT. Annual efficiency improvements of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars are possible and even likely. This could significantly reduce, or in some instances eliminate, the demand on overstretched taxpayer funds.
Second, the Council commited that the City would directly oversee and pay for these improvements rather than paying the Library to then pay vendors. After all, these improvements are being paid for by City funds to a building the City owns and are pursuant to a Library budget that the City Council approved. The City should be accountable and expenditures should be made transparently and efficiently.
The City Council, against my opposition, recently departed from these commitments and voted to disburse thousands of dollars to the Library, in advance of the agreed-upon efficiency analysis. This is a worrying step, and I will continue to oppose future payments unless taxpayer protections are respected.
Trout Released in Restored Ravine
Completing an exicting transformation, Highland Park students recently released rainbow trout that they had raised at school into a restored ravine next to Lake Michigan. Illinois DNR Director Marc Miller was on hand to celebrate this exciting educational and environmental effort. My hope is that we will be celebrating other similar restoration efforts in coming months and years!
Responsibly Dispose of Unwanted Prescription Drugs
Please help keep unwanted or outdated prescription drugs away from those whom they were not prescribed to, and out of our natural environment. Turn them in, no questions asked, either at the Police Department (1677 Old Deerfield Road) anytime, or at the North Shore Health Center (1840 Green Bay Road) during business hours.
Highland Park City Councilman