Hanover Park officials are shopping around for a Springfield lobbyist to represent the village's interests before state lawmakers.
The search will help trustees decide whether to rehire Roger C. Marquardt & Co. Inc., enlist a new lobbyist or end the practice of employing a lobbyist all together.
A divided village board has decided against renewing a contract with the DuPage County-based firm until trustees have a clearer picture that the investment pays off.
"We need to feel more confident about the money we're spending," Trustee Bill Cannon said. "It's just too gray ... There's too little to look at. I realize we can't have all the details. I'm just looking for something reasonable in the middle."
An eight-month pact with Marquardt would have cost the village $2,000 a month and expire in late December, before Hanover Park switches from a fiscal year starting May 1 to a calendar year for spending plans.
Several trustees have long expressed frustration with the communication between the firm and the board. Trustees used to receive updates that Cannon said "weren't very helpful."
"There was no accountability," Trustee Ed Zimel said.
The village first hired Roger C. Marquardt & Co. in 2010.
Last year, a finance committee recommended cutting ties with the lobbyist to help balance the budget. But Mayor Rodney Craig negotiated a one-year deal that slashed the firm's fees in half.
Under the agreement, which expired April 30, the village paid the firm $22,000.
Craig urged the board to stay patient as the lobbyist builds relationships with lawmakers, a "work-in-progress" that doesn't always yield immediate results. The firm is charged with helping secure state funding for road projects and other items the village could not afford on its own, Craig said.
"We rely on our support from Springfield," Craig said. "Unless you have a lobbyist, you can't see those things."
He cautioned against permanently scrapping the lobbyist and undoing the firm's work over the current legislative session.
Cannon said the village should make its study of what other lobbyists have to offer a top priority.
"If that's urgent, let's jump on this and get it wrapped up within the next 30, 60 days," he said.
The DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference, Northwest Municipal Conference and Illinois Municipal League also push the village's interests with legislators.
"We have a lot of people that we pay money to that are processing our issues," Cannon said. "It's not like the lobbyist is the only one out there looking for our benefit in Springfield."
The board could revisit the issue at its June 5 meeting in village hall, 2121 Lake St.