West Chicago alderman eyes forest preserve seat
West Chicago Alderman Al Murphy on Tuesday announced his intent to run for another elected office next spring: the 6th District seat on the DuPage County forest preserve commission.
Murphy ran for the post last spring, but lost in the Republican primary to incumbent Roger Kotecki, who has held the seat since 1990.
During a commission meeting Tuesday morning, Murphy suggested major overhauls, such as eliminating the post of forest preserve president, which will be the platform for his campaign.
"There is a problem of great concern on the horizon. Real estate values have been going down 20 to 30 percent in the last two to three years and all governments that rely on property tax revenue will see a major decline," Murphy said. "One cannot simply ask staff to take a pay freeze while commissioners continue to take their pay raises."
Murphy suggested cutting each commissioner's annual salary of more than $50,000 by $11,000 and eliminating cellphone and laptop perks. He said commissioners should get paid according to their meeting attendance, and those who miss a session would be docked accordingly.
In addition, Murphy suggested eliminating the office of the forest preserve president once current President D. "Dewey" Pierotti has finished his term. Murphy complimented Pierotti on the progress made in the district over many years, saying he's "done a great job."
But he said the forest preserve now "really works well" and could continue succeeding if one commissioner was elected as chairman by fellow commissioners, suggesting the person would receive an $11,000 stipend. The change would eliminate the $107,000 salary, benefits and monthly car allowance currently given the president.
In total, Murphy said all cuts he suggested would save about $250,000 annually from the forest preserve's total budget of more than $42 million.
The district approved its 2011-12 budget Tuesday and officials said it was reduced a bit more than 1 percent from last year.
"I realize this is small percentage in the reality of the size of the budget, but it is a first step," Murphy said.
Commissioners allowed Murphy to finish outlining his proposal Tuesday, even though he surpassed the allotted time to speak during public meetings.