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Article updated: 3/15/2013 10:13 AM

Budget process splits Lombard village president candidates

Keith Giagnorio, Moon Khan and John Lotus Novak are running for Lombard village president in the April 9 election.

Keith Giagnorio, Moon Khan and John Lotus Novak are running for Lombard village president in the April 9 election.

 
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Call it additional oversight or micromanagement, the method for reviewing and developing the village budget is one issue that divides along political lines in Lombard.

Village president candidates Keith Giagnorio, Moon Khan and John Lotus Novak offered their thoughts on the issue during an endorsement interview with the Daily Herald, splitting over whether each of the village board's six committees should have year-round oversight of the budget of one of the village's six main departments.

The committee oversight idea, proposed by Trustee Peter Breen, drew support from Khan, partial support from Novak and opposition from Giagnorio, who called it "micromanaging."

Year-round committee review of each department's budget could be in addition to the current budget process, which involves a series of workshops and meetings reviewing the document that divides spending by fund and department.

Khan, who is 57 and works in information technology, said he supports the idea of each committee reviewing one department's budget.

The village has six main departments -- community development, human resources, finance, fire, police and public works -- and six major standing committees -- community relations, economic and community development, environmental concerns, finance, public works, and transportation and safety -- each led by one trustee.

"I like that idea of Trustee Breen's because I think when you have a money shortage you have to work in a very different way," Khan said.

He said the additional oversight would provide another check and balance, which he sees as good for government, and he said he is willing to listen to anyone who has a good idea for saving money or creating efficiencies.

Novak, 71, said the budgeting process should happen year-round, but suggested oversight be limited to the finance committee, which is best suited to make financial decisions. He served as DuPage County Treasurer for 30 years before retiring and said some people have a knack for budgeting, while others don't.

"The budgeting process is a discipline, and it doesn't happen in the last month or two before you submit the budget; it should happen all year long," Novak said. "There is no perfect budget -- it's a road map of how you start from here and you get to there providing the goods and services and quality of life for the people that you serve."

While he would prefer the budget oversight role remain with the finance committee, he said he disagrees with Giagnorio's notion that additional budget review is "micromanaging," as it may prove necessary in some situations.

Giagnorio, 51 and owner of Giagnorio's Pizza in Lombard, said he trusts the village manager and department heads to prepare a fiscally responsible budget.

"If you trust them, you let them do their jobs," he said.

Citizens who make up the village board committees may not be prepared or willing to undergo year-round budget review, he said, and he questions how much additional staff time it would take to prepare for and attend committee meetings.

"I see it as complete micromanaging," he said about the committee oversight idea. "I trust the department heads, and if I didn't, they wouldn't be there."

Giagnorio, Novak and Khan are running a tightly contested race for village president to fill the seat held for almost 20 years by William J. "Bill" Mueller until his death last August. Voters in the April 9 election will choose who wins a 4-year term as the Lilac Village's top elected official.

• To see all our coverage of the Lombard village president race, including candidate bios, go to dailyherald.com/news/politics/election/race/Lombard-Village-President/.

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