Orland Park board members gave the OK Monday night to using a budget surplus to hire two new police officers and creating a new, full-time administrative assistant to the village manager position.
The new positions were added to the proposed 2013 village budget during a budget workshop at Village Hall. An official vote on the budget won't take place until December.
“Growth in other revenue sources will allow us to make these hires without a property tax increase,” said Trustee James Dodge.
Not all trustees were in favor of the decision to add two police officers.
“I don’t see a need for a second officer,” said Trustee Edward Schussler.
“Orland Park is a safe community,” Mayor Dan McLaughlin said. “I want to keep it that way. I’d rather head stuff off at the pass than have to hire a police officer because we have a problem.”
Village Manager Paul Grimes said the two new officers were requested by Police Chief Tim McCarthy.
“There’s been an uptick in retail thefts,” Grimes said. “The chief and I agree there should be a Retail Safety Officer position created to act as a liaison between the department and retailers in the village.”
He said a sergeant would likely take on the job as Retail Safety Officer and he would be replaced on the streets by one of two new officers.
If the budget is adopted, one of the officers would be hired effective Jan. 1 and the second would be hired as of July 1. Grimes said each position costs about $95,000 per year in salary and benefits. Each officer would be available for duty after about six months of training, he said.
“We found the money by making a mechanic position part-time and not filling another vacant position in a different department.” Grimes said. "It was time to increase the police department. We haven’t added any officers in six years.”
Trustee Kathleen Fenton said new officers are needed because of increased numbers thefts and fraud at Orland Square Mall, and the police force is undermanned because of active military duty and disability.
“We have 97 sworn officers,” she said. “But only 91 are available for duty.”
The board also decided that Grimes needs an administrative assistant.
“It’s ridiculous that the (village manager) of Orland Park doesn’t have an administrative assistant,” said Schussler.
Although originally pegged as a part-time position, board members decided the position should be full time.
Board members also agreed to hire a part-time mechanic to work on heavy equipment owned by the village.
Board members allocated $10,000 to have a booth at next year’s International Council of Shopping Centers show in Las Vegas. The annual shopping center show in May allows communities to pitch themselves to retailers.
Board members also agreed to reallocate $5,000 from a village art fair to jump-start the 50/50 Tree Program that was halted in 2009 because of budget concerns. The program allows residents to purchase trees for parkways with the village and resident splitting the cost.
Board members also discussed spending $13.6 million in capital projects next year.
“It’s a huge plus that we can spend $13.6 million on capital projects without borrowing any of the money,” said Dodge.
The biggest project at almost $3 million is street repairs and resurfacing, said Dodge. That includes engineering work on a possible extension south of Ravinia Avenue and a possible traffic roundabout at 147th Street and Ravinia.
Other capital projects include $200,000 for a Dog Park, which includes about $100,000 from Orland Township, and $180,000 for new pumping equipment at the aquatic center.
McLaughlin said Orland Park also is committed to continuing its property tax rebate.
“Any extra money that comes in or any budgeted funds that aren’t spent can be used for a rebate next year,” he said. “We’ll start discussing that next June, after we see where we are with the budget.”
Finance Director Annmarie Mampe said the proposed budget should be ready for adoption at the Dec. 3 Village Board meeting. She said the budget would be available online and at Village Hall for two weeks before that meeting.
Orland Park's proposed 2013 budget is projected to be balanced at $111,891,995 with total operating expenses expected to be $47.8 million.
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