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posted: 1/18/2014 8:00 AM

Funding village services to remain a challenge, Mt. Prospect leaders say

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Funding village services with less help from Springfield and downtown redevelopment were among the topics this week when the Mount Prospect village board held the first of two strategic planning sessions designed to craft a vision for the village as it enters its 100th year in 2017.

Led by consultant Lynn Montei, a group that included Mayor Arlene Juracek, village trustees and top village administrators met for more than three hours to discuss ideas for the village's future.

"We don't have a lot of glassy-eyed dreamers out there," Juracek said. "We all have our dreams and our visions, but we're all very realistic about the challenges that we're facing and what our roles and responsibilities are."

Trustees assessed what they believed were the village's accomplishments and disappointments, as well as the challenges. Among those challenges, they said, was maintaining village services when more and more of the revenues Mount Prospect shares with the state are being kept in Springfield.

"It seems to get worse and worse every year," Trustee Michael Zadel said. "The battle just to maintain designated funds that are supposed to go to the village that come out of Springfield by law, they're finding ways to get around those laws to get money to do something completely different, and it makes our job that much more difficult."

"The state is gobbling up revenues," Juracek added. "We need to plan for a future in which the state steals our revenues."

Montei asked some key questions, among them whether Mount Prospect is at a crossroads.

Trustee Paul Hoefert said the village is always at a crossroads as it continually faces the challenge of staying contemporary and maintaining its relevance as a community.

At one point, participants were separated into two groups to assess what makes them proud and what disappoints them about the village.

Zadel outlined some of the positives his group found, including the services offered by the village -- police, fire, public works, community development. He also mentioned the trust between the staff and the village board, noting that a lot of problems are often solved by the village staff before they even reach the board level.

As for disappointments, Zadel cited downtown redevelopment, particularly the lack of progress on the area known as The Triangle.

By the end of the meeting, trustees seemed satisfied with their progress.

"We all want the same kinds of things generally for our community -- and I feel good about that," Hoefert said.

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