Hanover Park Mayor Rodney Craig has long defended the "marvelous" record of the village's lobbyist in Springfield.
But that hasn't convinced three village trustees who have called into question the value of paying Roger C. Marquardt & Co. Inc. $2,000 a month to represent Hanover Park before state lawmakers.
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For the second time, trustees on Thursday night told village staff members to begin a formal search of what other lobbyists have to offer.
Trustee Bill Cannon said the village should have shopped around before a contentious decision in June to renew a Marquardt contract.
"At least we're going to get some choices here," Cannon said in an interview Thursday. "We can do some comparison, which is what we should be doing on everything. It may end up that who we're using is the best choice, but right now, I don't know, and not knowing that bothers me because we're all responsible for the money that's being spent."
The saga began in May when a divided board decided against rehiring Marquardt until the village put out a request for proposals from other firms.
But before the search got off the ground, Trustee Jon Kunkel switched positions. Saying he "got some clarification" from Craig that the investment pays off, Kunkel voted in favor of a new deal with Marquardt. The turnaround allowed the board to narrowly approve the pact in June over the opposition of Cannon, as well as Trustees Ed Zimel and Jenni Konstanzer.
Under the terms, Marquardt will charge the village $2,000 a month for eight months and send quarterly updates. By the time the contract expires in late December, trustees hope to decide which firm presents the best fees and qualifications.
"I just have to make peace with the fact that we're paying (Marquardt) each month between now and then before we have a chance to analyze it and compare," Cannon said.
The village's lobbyist is tasked with identifying projects in town that could get a boost from state grants and helping secure that funding.
Marquardt began working for the village in 2010, beating out nine other firms that pitched their services. Craig said the quarterly reports should ease trustees' complaints about communication.
Craig said it's hard to measure whether the village is getting the most bang for its buck because a large part of what the lobbyist does involves building relationships with lawmakers.
"Our lobbyist is really performing for us and not all board members agree with that, so that's just the reality of that," he said