The Carpentersville Public Works Department has come under fire for what three trustees characterize as wasteful spending and not doing enough to find the best deals.
Libertarian Trustee Doug Marks, who is known to question everyday expenses at almost every meeting, led a nearly hourlong and heated discussion recently that focused on items the public works department wanted for its new parking garage on Tamarac Drive.
At issue was the $142,335.12 in expenses that Public Works Director Bob Cole submitted for board approval. They included nearly $20,000 for fitness equipment, $19,590 for vehicle maintenance software and $12,545.68 for a new radio system. Cole declined to comment on the issue Friday.
The board approved the list, with Marks and trustees Paul Humpfer and Pat Schultz voting against it. They complained village brass didn't shop locally and did a shoddy job when it came to finding the best prices.
Marks said he did a web-based price comparison and found lower prices than the ones being proposed. Some included holiday specials. He said he could have saved the village 20 percent.
For example, he said he found an elliptical workout machine for $1,000 that the village found at nearly three times the price.
"When you come up to me and say you shopped for better deals, I don't believe you," Marks told Village Manager J. Mark Rooney. "I'm done trying to bite my tongue. I'm done trying to be nice. Stop spending."
Schultz criticized officials for not shopping locally at Menards or Home Depot and said the prices "took my breath away."
Rooney countered that the village compared prices with those vendors and concluded that another vendor offered the best deals.
"None of the items should be a shock to this board," he said, pointing out that the department still is $100,000 under budget.
Humpfer, meanwhile, accused officials of buying the most expensive equipment at the taxpayers' expense.
"The perception is you guys don't care," Humpfer charged. He and Marks ran together during the spring elections on the platform of being tax watchdogs.
But Rooney defended Cole and said Humpfer was entitled to his own opinion, not his own facts.
"Bob has been very reluctant to buy large items in this facility," Rooney told Humpfer, adding that Cole has foregone a curb in front of the building to save money. "That's not reflective of not caring," he said.