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updated: 3/18/2013 8:47 AM

Scheduling of Lombard budget workshop causes controversy

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Lombard village trustees are scheduled to hold a workshop at 6 p.m. Thursday about a politically divisive idea related to the village budget.

A plan to have each of the board's six committees provide year-round oversight of the budget has divided the board along political lines since Trustee Peter Breen proposed it in December.

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At a Jan. 3 meeting. the board voted 4-2 to schedule a workshop for trustees to discuss the budget oversight idea at "a later date to be determined," Village Manager David Hulseberg said. The motion calling for a workshop made no mention of whether that date would be before or after the April 9 election in which residents will vote for a new village president and for trustees in districts 1, 3 and 6.

Still, scheduling the workshop was the topic of some heated discussion during the village board's last meeting Feb. 21.

Breen, who suggested the idea of additional budget oversight, said trustees Keith Giagnorio, Greg Gron and Bill Ware worked "behind closed doors" to postpone discussion of the idea until a new board and village president are seated after the election.

"It was clearly understood that we would not be waiting" until after the election to discuss budget oversight because it's not common board practice to call for a workshop "and then delay it five months," Breen said in a phone interview the week after the Feb. 21 meeting.

At that meeting, Gron said, "we didn't work behind closed doors." Trustees Gron, Giagnorio and Ware simply responded to an email from Hulseberg asking about scheduling preferences for the workshop by saying they would prefer to hold it in May, Gron said.

Hulseberg also said nothing was done behind closed doors; he and the three trustees who wanted to discuss budget oversight after the election were following proper procedures.

Breen responded by getting approval from trustees Laura Fitzpatrick and Zachary Wilson to call for the workshop to be scheduled at 6 p.m. Thursday at village hall, 255 E. Wilson Ave. Hulseberg said these trustees also followed proper procedure by filing individual letters requesting Thursday as the workshop date.

The idea behind Breen's proposal for additional budget review is to provide enough time for creative thinking that can streamline operations and keep careful watch over village spending, he said.

Gron and Giagnorio call the idea "micromanaging" and say they trust department heads, Hulseberg and the finance committee to carefully review all aspects of the budget. Ware has said since December he thinks the decision should made in May by a new village president and trustees after the election. He is running unopposed for his District 6 seat.

Also in May, a village staff report about different budgeting methods is expected to be complete. Hulseberg said this report does not address the committee oversight idea, but discusses the pros and cons of various budgeting methods, including performance-based budgeting and priority budgeting.

Lombard's current method of budgeting divides expenditures by fund and department.

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