'It is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig.' Mundelein trustee objects to new signs for village
Despite some strong objections, Mundelein officials will spend $347,930 to buy and install nine new gateway signs throughout the village and an electronic message sign at the police station.
Trustee Dawn Abernathy wasn't happy with the plan, particularly how some of the funding will come from village savings.
Abernathy called the purchase financially irresponsible at a time when officials are making budget cuts and "our downtown is a complete mess."
"It is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig," Abernathy said during Monday's village board meeting.
Trustee Bill Rekus objected to that crack during the meeting. In a subsequent interview, Mayor Steve Lentz said he was offended by the remark.
"Coming from an elected trustee, that comment about our community is quite sad," Lentz said.
Trustees Ray Semple took issue with the statement, too.
"It was a deplorable comment to make as an elected official," Semple said.
In an interview Wednesday, Abernathy stood by her comments. Money should be spent on filling empty businesses, not buying gateway signs, she said.
"We are losing track of what's important in town," she said.
The board approved the plan Monday with a pair of 4-2 votes. Abernathy and Kerston Russell opposed both the purchase, from a Sugar Grove company called Quantum Sign Corp., and the funding authorization for the effort.
Money will come from village savings, a police department account containing seized assets and other sources.
Like Abernathy, Russell objected to using savings to pay for the signs. But unlike Abernathy, he wasn't angry about it and said he could've supported the proposal if it was made this fall, once some upcoming but unspecified projects are underway.
"I just wish we had some of these other projects coming out of the ground so it just felt better going to our constituents and saying, 'This is why we're doing it,'" Russell said.
Mundelein has six gateway signs now at various spots. They're made of wood and are deteriorating.
The new signs will be made of stone and metal. Officials hope to have them installed by early fall.
This month, the village board was asked to consider buying two gateway signs and the electronic message board for the police station, at a proposed cost of $122,590. More signs would've been purchased over time.
But Trustee Scott Black called for the board to consider buying more signs now to save $15,000 overall, and the proposal was rewritten.
"We're saving significant money by doing this right now," Black said during a heated exchange with Abernathy. "Let's pull the Band-Aid off and get it done."
The signs will cost $304,890. The entire project will cost more because of landscaping and electrical work, officials said.