Buffalo Grove village president candidates discuss outsourcing
In recent times, the village of Buffalo Grove has trimmed its staff by outsourcing its information technology department and maintenance of its two golf courses.
How far should the village continue to go in the direction of outsourcing government services? And what kind of adjustments does it need to make with the current staff?
The challenger, Trustee Beverly Sussman, said she thinks outsourcing is fine as long as it does not interfere with the health, safety and welfare of residents.
"I would never outsource in any way, shape or form the fire department or the police department or EMS. I would never close a fire station," she said.
The incumbent, Village President Jeffrey Braiman, said the village is looking for other ways to outsource where appropriate, as well as opportunities to partner with other villages.
Like Sussman, he said, "I can't see any way to outsource it (public safety)." But he pointed out that the village does share a fire training facility with other municipalities. And it does share the cost of mutual aid for fire, which means the village does not need a fourth fire station.
As for closing one of the fire stations, he said the village has not discussed it for some time. But if the village were to consider it, that would require very hard study.
"The last thing we want to do is put our residents or property in jeopardy," he said.
In the past, Sussman said, she has questioned whether one service that is being outsourced -- legal services -- should be in-house.
She said she respects the work of Village Attorney William Raysa and acknowledges that his rates are reasonable. But she also notes that the village hires other attorneys for supplemental work.
"So I still wonder if it would be cheaper to have a law department, a legal department in our very own building," she said.
Braiman said that is something that is generally not done in village government because of cost.
"If you have somebody on staff, someone who has experience coming from a firm whose expertise is municipal government, you're going to be paying a significant salary for that person, plus benefits plus pension," he said. "Right now, we have been served by Mr. Raysa and his father for 40 or 50 years. They have great historical knowledge and we get great service."
As for the village's existing employees, Sussman said she also wonders whether, as the village promotes job sharing among staff workers at the bottom of the pay scale, it isn't duplicating duties at the higher levels.
"When we went to hire a deputy village manager 2½ to 3 years ago, the whole goal of hiring that person was to have someone with a specialty in economic development," she said, but that didn't happen.
"Now we just hired a specialist in economic development (Christopher Stilling)," she said. "Now we have two people that were supposed to be doing that job instead of one. So I just think we have to look very carefully at the people who are at the upper levels and we have to make sure that we don't have any duplication."
Braiman disagreed with Sussman's analysis.
"If you look at virtually every municipality, there is, if it's not a deputy village manager, it's an assistant village manager. A deputy village manager has specific functions. It's not like they added a job where it wasn't necessary."
With the hiring of Stilling, "we have hired somebody who not only has expertise within the municipal framework but also was on the private side, too," Braiman said.
"I think his skill sets are completely different than what is necessary for an assistant village manager or a deputy village manager."