Moraine Township

Moraine Township Board of Trustees
Thursday, February 12, 2009 4:00PM
Moraine Township Office

February 12, 2009

The meeting was called to order at 4:02 PM by Supervisor Barnes and upon roll call the following members were present: Trustees Bryna Gamson, Margoth Moreno, Cynthia Plouché, and Jeff Zaluda. Also Present: Assessor Peter Koukos, Deputy Assessor Patty Powers, and Clerk Ellen Gussin.

Approval of Minutes
The Regular Meeting Minutes of January 22, 2009 stand approved as written.

Approval of Bills
Trustee Zaluda moved, seconded by Trustee Plouché, approval of the bills. Upon roll call, motion carried.

Public Comment

Budget Discussion
Assessor Budget
Assessor Koukos had forwarded a copy of the proposed Assessor's Office budget to the Board, and he led the discussion on that part of the budget. He explained changes being made by the County Assessor which will create significant improvements, increased transparency, and greater efficiency, and therefore allow Moraine Township to operate in 2010 with one less staff person.

He went over the budget increases requested and reported that the public has extended many nice compliments to the staff regarding treatment during the appeals process. He stated how important it is for the Assessor's Office to move to a more private space to allow for greater professionalism and efficiency. Most of the expenses from the move next door, scheduled for next week, will be covered in the 2009 budget, but the highest cost is in the critical, ADA compliance requirements. Some office expansion expenses were included in last year's budget which will ease the burden on next year’s. Thus far, $5,600 has been spent.

Supervisor Barnes had questioned the raise in Temp-Hourly; this is for part-time property appraisers. Trustee Plouché questioned why his budget is going up 9% and whether there might be places to cut. Trustee Gamson stated her concern about some of the administrative increases and whether the Assessor's office is properly bearing the burden of the actual rent increase, according to the traditional 1/3 distribution to each of the three entities – Assessor, Town Fund and General Assistance. Trustee Zaluda stated his belief that the Assessor's budget was not inflated and moved to approve the Assessor's Budget with an amendment to shift $5,000 from Equipment to Rent. Trustee Moreno seconded, but Supervisor Barnes suggested holding off the vote until the entire budget had been reviewed, which will take place at the next meeting. Assessor Koukos accepted the suggested change.

Assessor Koukos summarized a lengthy presentation on State-wide IMRF that he had forwarded to the Board. A shortfall in the IMRF fund due to the decreased value of investments will increase IMRF payments from each township; the exact amount should be known after the February 27 meeting of the IMRF. The budget allows for a 25% increase.

Supervisor Barnes asked Assessor Koukos to explain the change in the levy; he responded that it will drop to 0.1% vs. 4.1% last year because the of the lowered CPI/consumer price index.

Township Budget
Supervisor Barnes led the discussion on the Township Budget and posed the question about the total dollars to be allocated for grants; the current amount is $105,000. Discussion ensued about reducing the number of grantees but giving more significant amounts to each vs. spreading the grant dollars among a greater number of organizations. Trustee Gamson and Supervisor Barnes suggested raising the total $125,000. Trustee Moreno counter proposed to limit the raise to $115,000. Discussion among the Board settled on a compromise of $120,000.

Further discussion ensued on how to handle the Reserves account which currently has a balance of approximately $1.2 million; these funds are kept to handle deficits as they occur and other emergencies. For the most part the actual expenditures for the past three years have not produced any significant deficits, and reserves have grown slightly. The Board agreed to honor the commitment of the former Township Board to give the Community Family Center $100,000 from these funds. President of the CFC Herb Wander will make a presentation at the February 26 Township meeting.

It is important to remember that dollars can be transferred from the Town Fund to General Assistance but not the reverse.

There has been an increase in the dollars received from miscellaneous donors to the Community Chest account; this money is used for the Food Pantry.

Supervisor Barnes will present a completed budget for review at the next meeting.

Supervisor’s Report
Jewel is giving the Township $1,000 that will be used for the Food Pantry.

Committee Reports
Food Pantry – Trustee Moreno reported that we are in good shape; the process to form a 501(c)(3) entity for the Township is progressing.

Latino Advisory Committee – Trustee Plouché reported that the last meeting went well. Housing is one of the key issues identified. Committee Member Miguel O’Brien met with Mayor Belsky on behalf of the Committee and as a result has now been appointed to the Housing Commission. Committee will be participating in the April 19 Outreach event sponsored by the City of Highland Park.

Grant Advisory Committee – The requests have been received and will be processed by the Citizens Grant Advisory Committee.

Old Business

New Business
Trustee Moreno received three calls about the Highwood fire this past weekend involving two homes in a duplex; eight men and two women from one apartment were displaced along with seven others from the other apartment that are not Spanish-speaking. Both groups were assisted by the Township. She reported that the police handled the situation very well. She assisted with the translation and made certain that people knew she was there as Citizen Margoth Moreno, not on behalf of the Township. She drove those needing transportation to the Red Roof Inn, registered them, and bought some food [both of which the Township pays for]. On Tuesday she went back to help translate; almost everything in the apartments was ruined. The first group agreed to split up in order to rent another place, and apartments were found today for two groups of four.

Supervisor Barnes advised the Board of the numerous Freedom of Information requests received from Ray Geraci, which requires staff time to process.

Video tapes of Township public meetings, since Charlie Barnes has been taping and submitting to Comcast, have not been televised because of Comcast's inability to convert the tapes for telecast and Comcast had failed to inform the Township of the problem. This will now be resolved for future meetings.

With no further business to conduct, Trustee Plouché moved, seconded by Trustee Moreno, the meeting be adjourned at 6:08 PM. Motion carried.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen S. Gussin
Moraine Township Clerk


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