Services top list of issues in Glencoe
Glencoe - Glencoe Village Manager Paul Harlow talks about the current state of the village of Glencoe | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:21AM
GLENCOE — With the state and national elections behind us, and the local elections looming ahead in the spring, Pioneer Press took a minute to talk with local village managers to get an unvarnished look at where each stands at the end of 2012.
Glencoe Village Manager Paul Harlow sat down to talk top issues, finances and pension reform.
Q. Can you briefly describe the top three issues Glencoe faces?
A. “I’d like to make sure that the services that distinguish us as a community continue to reach those high levels of service. Those include the combined public safety department.
“We’re going to review the garbage collection services. About four years ago we modified it from back-door service twice a week to once a week. We’ve talked about a little further analysis into the viability of curb collection: would it be more cost-effective, and consistent with community requirements?
“Number two, we need to continue to be fiscally responsible. We have a board and finance committee that has done a good job managing how we do things, while making sure we provide what the community wants.
“Three, we’re looking for opportunities to look to the shared services model. It’s a pilot program, and the first year we’re not looking at saving hundreds of thousands of dollars, but we are looking at saving $100,000. It doesn’t matter (which entity saves).”
Q. Given the economy, how would you describe Glencoe’s fiscal situation?
A. “I’m very proud of the fact that we are fiscally sound. Back in 2008, when things took a dive, there was no waiting until the end of the fiscal year, (no) ‘Oh, woe was us,’ just: how to deal with the loss of revenue?
“Building permits fell off the charts, sales tax from the car dealers and the like (dropped).
“We immediately made adjustments, so at the end, we weren’t in a situation in which we were compelled to be reactive. We’ve done so ever since.
“(We) cut, cut, cut, locked, and froze, in anticipation that we might not get funding. All the expenses had to be brought down, and monitored very closely.
“We started looking at capital expenses by quarter: the most significant expenses in the early part of the year, and the less (significant), in the third and fourth quarter (when revenue trends are more clear).”
Q. What about personnel?
A. “In 2009, we modified personnel in the public safety department, going from two deputy chiefs to one, and (dropping) the position of public safety analyst.”
Q. How is the state’s pension crisis affecting the village?
A. “The police pension in Glencoe took a hit, and the board has been extremely responsive to that, in the last three years, four years, putting in funds in excess of what they say we should be putting in.”
Q. The finance committee will be looking at possible further contribution increases...
A. “In December (6:30 p.m., Dec. 20). That’s when our actuary will be here.”
Q. What is Glencoe doing to promote economic development?
A. “We’re very fortunate to be able to reap the benefit from the development of the car dealers on Frontage Road.
“The chamber has played an important role in suggesting the restraints in our current zoning code (be altered to allow non-retail uses on downtown ground floors). The zoning board is looking at first floor uses — the process is underway.
“Service industries have expanded in the last five years or so. We do have businesses reflective of what the community wants. Service businesses are important to the Glencoe community.
“I think everybody is delighted as am I with the new (downtown) restaurant, expected to open in February. In conjunction with the Writers Theatre, which will really provide impetus, new life to downtown. Not that it’s dead, but that it will expand.
“But this is a small, family-oriented community. I don’t see that it will bring a proliferation of sports bars like Rush Street.”
Q. Do you think Glencoe is doing a good job conducting its business transparently?
A. “You remember this (he said, holding up a 2011 Illinois Policy Institute notice that Glencoe had scored the highest of 87 governments on public information availability — a score that rose from 49 to 60 to 93 percent in 7 months). I’m proud of that.”~.