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posted: 1/11/2012 5:00 AM

BACOG cuts costs in hopes of keeping South Barrington

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The Barrington Area Council of Governments has slashed its proposed annual budget by 25 percent in an effort to make continued involvement attractive to it members, particularly South Barrington.

One of the ways of doing that was to take up Barrington Hills Village President Robert Abboud's offer to house the council's administrative offices at his village hall, thus eliminating BACOG's rent and utility costs for a time.

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"Essentially we're acting as a lifeboat through these poor economic times," Abboud said. "I understand the responsibility Barrington Hills will have to preserve the independence of BACOG."

The council's executive board is planning on a joint meeting Thursday night with the South Barrington village board. Village President Frank Munao last month proposed leaving BACOG, due in part to the rising cost of membership.

"I hope we can make a final decision (Thursday)," Munao said Tuesday. "I think we're in the right direction, but a lot depends on the future."

South Barrington's estimated dues for next year would be $23,000 under the proposed budget, a significant reduction from the $36,000 it paid this year, he said.

Among his lingering questions, though, is how long the savings will last.

The concerns Munao voiced last month about staying with the 41-year-old organization involved both its rising costs and broadening legislative platform.

BACOG Executive Director Janet Agnoletti said it seemed important to address the financial concerns first, but the council will strive to find agreement on its work program as well.

In the meantime, the proposed next annual budget of $185,000 is a major reduction from the last year's $246,000.

Giving up the council's current headquarters at 118 Applebee St. in downtown Barrington is considered one way to ride out the continued climate of economic uncertainty by saving about $20,000 per year.

"We're hoping that it would be a temporary measure, maybe for several years," Agnoletti said.

Most BACOG members favored the office's visibility in the center of Barrington, Agnoletti said. A side benefit is that the many college interns BACOG has employed over the years have been able to commute by train.

Barrington Hills village hall has the space to accommodate BACOG because three rooms previously used to store paper records have been freed up by digitizing information, Abboud explained.

Another area of the budget being cut is BACOG's annual $29,350 contribution to the cost of a local global information system analyst.

Besides South Barrington and Barrington Hills, BACOG members include Barrington, Deer Park, Lake Barrington, North Barrington, Tower Lakes and Barrington and Cuba townships.

The council's mission has been to find common ground on local development issues and pursue a legislative agenda more specific to the Barrington area than that of other intergovernmental groups like the Northwest Municipal Conference or Illinois Municipal League.

Other BACOG leaders, including Abboud, spoke passionately last month about the importance of standing together against the development philosophies outside of Barrington area.

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