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Village Board Approves Balanced Budget for 2012

Oak Lawn village trustees approve the budget, but clash on impact taxes for Advocate Christ Medical Center.

passed the 2012 general budget Tuesday but not before dotting some “i’s” and ruffling the feathers of the village’s largest employer first.

The village board approved a budget of $53,557,700 for next year—approximately $13.98 million more than 2011.

The state constitution requires municipalities to pass a balanced budget. The village has been grappling with a projected $3 million budget shortfall that village manage Larry Deetjen has attributed to increased pension and public safety costs.

To help close the gap, the village board approved increasing the home rule sales tax from .50 to .75, commensurate with other nearby communities.

The village board also passed two ordinances designed to raise revenue for the village by charging a parking lot and garage operations tax at The parking lot tax would not affect the Metra parking garage and other municipal lots.

The second ordinance is a “community health services” fee, which is expected to generate an additional $700,000 in revenue for the village. Park Ridge has a similar arrangement for Advocate Lutheran General Hospital.

Both were described as “the cost of doing business” in Oak Lawn, because of the medical center’s impact on the village’s infrastructure and police and fire services.

Deetjen said that the medical center would have a choice which of the two fees to implement, and the other ordinance would be taken off the books.

“I’m giving them an option of what’s best for the hospital,” the village manager said. “All the feedback I received from the parties in Park Ridge where they have had a financial relationship for years … this was the way to go.”

Mayor Dave Heilmann said he received a letter from Advocate Christ CEO Ken Lukhard, requesting that the village board table voting on the ordinances for 30 days for further discussion.

“Given that we have a positive relationship with them, I think we should afford them that courtesy,” Heilmann said. “I think they deserve that.”

Deetjen said he mentioned the proposed parking tax to Lukhard on Nov. 3 but received no response from the medical center.

Trustee Carol Quinlan (Dist. 5) said she was concerned about the “communications breakdown.”

“I have to think [Advocate Christ] wasn’t so clued into this,” she said.

Trustee Tom Phelan (Dist. 6) said that a parking garage tax wasn’t a “last minute” idea and that Advocate Christ has had that opportunity since Nov. 3.

“They’re communicating on everything that is beneficial to them,” Phelan said, referring to the village expediting plans, zoning variances and permits for Advocate Christ’s new ambulatory pavilion, “but somehow when something isn’t beneficial to them there is a month-long non-responsiveness.”

Deetjen said that communication between the village and Advocate Christ has been “superb.”

“All I’m trying to do is have a couple of options to do what [Advocate Christ] feels is best,” Deetjen added. “I realize they have to work through [Advocate’s corporate board] and they have a chain of command they have to follow. I respect that.”

Trustees shot down the mayor’s motion to table voting on both ordinances until their first village board meeting of the year next month.

The village board approved both ordinances 4-2; trustees Quinlan and Cindy Trautsch were the dissenting votes.

Trautsch said she was concerned that the village was playing “hard ball” with Oak Lawn’s number one employer.

andy skoundrianos December 19, 2011 at 04:19 PM
It's about time The village needs money. Why shouldn't we get some revenue from Advocate. The village has given them everything they have wanted. Park Ridge has been collecting parking lot tax for years from the Advocate Hospital in their town. It won't cost anything to the Hospital and if it keeps my Property taxes down I'm fine with that.
OakLawnGuy December 19, 2011 at 10:49 PM
ACH didn't contribute a whole lot to the Village when it was Christ Community Hospital, but its deposited plenty into Village coffers in the last 15 years. Dollars that aren't obvious via property taxes derived from doctors' and interns' residences, money spent at Village businesses, that sort of thing. Andy, you probably have an idea how much money has been spent at the Walgreens pharmacy by patients and their families over the years. I agree with Clerks Quinlan and Trautsch, another month wasn't going to hurt anyone, and it like it or not a little deference should be shown to the largest business in town. I mean, they showed plenty to Napleton recently, right?
andy skoundrianos December 20, 2011 at 04:42 AM
Stop the Heilmann talking points will you please. I'm for Oak Lawn not some business which for good or bad has had a serious impact on the Oak Lawn homeowners around the hospital.Exactly how many people from ACH live in Oak Lawn??? I sure don't know you don't either I can sure tell you thank most of the visitors that use the parking garages don't.Ask the big shots at ACH if they are going to reimburse the village for the lost property taxes from the old paragon site that are now off the tax rolls. They knew for a month about this,I can't believe a politican would back a business over saving Oak Lawn resident taxpayers some money!!! This issue is a no- brainer. By the way it was trustee Quinlan not Clerk Quinlan who went with the mayor and trustee Trautsch on this issue...
OakLawnGuy December 20, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Excuse me, Andy, I meant trustee rather than clerk. There are a few dozen apartments/condos rented to interns adjacent to the hospital. I've heard there are a couple dozen homes owned by doctors - yeah, I can't prove it, I don't have the real estate records. Don't label me by asking to "stop the Heilmann talking points". Stop and think, take your anti-Mayor lid off for a few minutes. The Village wants to do business? Well, figuratively stamping one's little bitty foot, complaining that ACH had a whole month respond and "gee whiz" he didn't so we're going to do what we want strikes me as pedantic. Conducting business requires give and take. Your using the term "big shots" pretty much shows where you're coming from, a blue collar "working guy" angle, and it's a narrow view.
andy skoundrianos December 20, 2011 at 09:43 PM
OLG-I'm proud to be a blue-collar " working guy " like a lot of the residents of Oak Lawn. The Village should never defer residents interests to some business that operates in the village no matter the size. ACH provides no property taxes,very little if any Sales Tax,and is the biggest consumer of our public works,police and fire departmets, which we pay for they don't. Our elected officals work for us not ACH or any other buisness.This is just another revenue stream to keep our taxes lower and there is nothing wrong with that.
Ron Williams January 26, 2012 at 03:13 PM
If the village imposes a tax that costs the hospital money, they will cover it by passing that cost onto to those using the facility.The village will get their revenue, the hospital will not incur any expenditures, and we will pay one way or another.

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