Glencoe, parks save on shared services
Maintaining Glencoe's holiday lights is a two-person job, and under the shared services agreement between the village and the Glencoe Park District, one of those people is from the district this year. Here, the parks' Anthony Marx is the man in charge of safety on the ground, with the village's Jose Mendez in the bucket. |Irv Leavitt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:14AM
GLENCOE — Ninety-one thousand dollars ... and counting?
The “shared services” pilot program that brought together the Village of Glencoe and the Glencoe Park District (and to a lesser extent, School District 35) to save money by laboring in each other’s vineyards has saved enough money over six months to become the sweetheart of both governments.
Is it only the beginning?
“We’re looking for more opportunities to expand the shared services model,” Village Manager Paul Harlow said Friday. “We’re saving almost $100,000 ... after picking the low-hanging fruit.
“The next level of branches: let’s push it a little. There may be some things in (information technology), some things in finance, that we would normally go to the market for, equipment sharing, at a modest level. If the park district doesn’t have a piece of equipment, don’t buy a pickup truck. We have one.”
Park district leaders feel equally giddy.
Employees, however, have had to leave their comfort zones a bit to work in ways they’ve never had to before.
That includes parks workers going up in the village’s snorkel truck to work on holiday light strands.
“He’s the only one who likes going in the bucket,” cackled public works’ Jose Mendez, gesturing at the park district’s Anthony Marks rising high above Hazel Avenue. “The others are afraid of heights.”
The secret, Marks said, is looking at the tree, not looking down or at the wide open spaces in the other direction.
Despite the newness, the holiday lights job is getting done ahead of schedule, Mendez said. “Maybe next year, the park district guys can do the whole thing themselves.”
That’s the idea. The parks workers do the lights and mow the village’s lawns. The village fixes the park district’s trucks, and cuts down its dead trees.
Before the pilot started March 1, it was agreed to leave one public works employee on the lights job this year, for safety. So to make it even, the park district sent along Karen Keefe to work with the village clearing trees (mostly killed by emerald ash borers).
The tree work brought along a glitch: almost all of the village’s trees are on parkways. For years it has maintained them with bucket trucks parked at the curb. Many of the park district’s dead trees are far from the streets, where a big truck would tear up the turf.
“We’re going to wait until winter for those, when the ground is frozen,” Keefe said.
Usually, the park district hires tree-climbing contractors to take down those trees. Assistant Village Manager Will Jones Jr. said the district will save about $32,000 with a few thousand dollars to hire contractors to take down trees that the village still can’t handle.
Jones, who coordinates the pilot project, noted that the village saved $16,000 on grass mowing last year by eschewing contractors and hiring a couple of temporary employees instead.
“We have not spent a dime on grass mowing, as the park district has taken over this function.”
Steve Nagle, the park district’s interim executive director, is fine with the trade.
“As far as I’m concerned, what we’ve done so far is really great,” Nagle said.