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posted: 3/21/2013 9:32 PM

Lombard schedules more discussion on budget oversight

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Lombard trustees aren't making any changes to the way they review the village's budget just yet, but a controversial proposal to begin year-round committee oversight of each department's spending is still on the table after a workshop Thursday night.

Trustees will continue consideration of Trustee Peter Breen's budget oversight idea at another workshop scheduled for Thursday April 18.

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The idea calls for each of the village board's six standing committees to review the budget for one of the village's six main departments throughout the year.

Holding further discussion allows trustees to review the ordinances that spell out the responsibilities of each standing committee to determine if additional budget review could be allowed.

Village Manager David Hulseberg said there is a fine line between asking questions about budgeted expenditures -- which falls under committee purview -- and directing how staff implements policy -- which is solely the village manager's responsibility in the council/manager form of government used by the Lilac Village.

"Committees would not have the ability to indicate to department heads how they should be operating their department," Hulseberg said.

Before identifying the need to study committee responsibilities, trustees again split three to three about whether additional budget oversight would be beneficial. The topic -- and even the scheduling of Thursday night's workshop -- had divided them along political lines in the past.

Breen and trustees Laura Fitzpatrick and Zachary Wilson said they favor the idea because it could spread out the work of reviewing planned expenditures and allow more time to creatively cut spending.

"We have three responsibilities -- politics, policy and purse," Fitzpatrick said. "What we're suggesting is that we take control of the purse."

During a two-month line-by-line review of the 2013 budget last fall, trustees cut $541,200, which allowed them to eliminate the need for residents to buy village vehicle stickers. Breen said he wants to expand that close review so more savings can be found.

"If we don't make a change to institutionalize the good things that happened last year coming into this year's budget, we're not going to see additional cost savings like we saw this year," he said.

Those who oppose the idea of additional budget oversight, trustees Keith Giagnorio, Greg Gron and Bill Ware, say community members who sit on each board committee might not be qualified to analyze a portion of the budget. They also say they trust department heads to prepare a responsible spending plan.

"I believe this is nothing but bogging down the workings of the staff," Gron said. "I don't understand the micromanagement need to do this when we already vet this through the budget process."

Breen, who leads the economic and community development committee, said he will begin asking questions of Community Development Director Bill Heniff at the committee's next meeting to determine how the group may be able to fit more budget oversight into its established role. He said he will then bring those ideas into the board's next discussion April 18.

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