Mokena board criticized for eliminating vehicle sticker fee
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent November 27, 2012 6:34PM
Updated: December 29, 2012 6:25AM
Not all Mokena residents are happy that the village board on Monday night voted to eliminate its nearly century-old vehicle sticker fee.
Jim Giglio said the village could have found a better use for the money, such as hiring a full-time economic development director, a police commander, or a community service officer, or by rehiring some of the employees laid off during the economic downturn.
The board approved the measure by a 5-to-1 vote after village administrator John Downs told them the loss of $125,000 in revenue would be offset by rising sales tax revenue and an estimated $50,000 in video gambling revenue.
Trustee Don Labriola voted against the measure.
Downs said sales tax revenue is “at an all-time high” and the village’s general fund balance reflects economic growth and an “ability to manage our costs.”
Giglio said Downs’ numbers on new gambling revenue were “speculative” since none of the 13 businesses interested in having video gambling machines has been licensed yet. But Downs said the estimate likely was conservative.
“I don’t think you’re going to get a better estimate,” he said.
The vehicle sticker fee is $13 for most cars.
“How about saving me some money on my water bill?” Giglio said, suggesting the village renegotiate the deal in which it gets Lake Michigan water from Chicago through Oak Lawn’s delivery system.
Giglio also said the board lacked transparency and accused it of violating the Open Meetings Act by discussing the amendment in a Nov. 19 workshop meeting without putting it on the agenda.
“I would have been at that meeting,” said Giglio, who was a Thornton Township trustee for more than a decade before he moved to Mokena in 2001.
Mokena village attorney Tiffany Thompson said the Open Meetings Act was not violated because the meeting was posted and no action was taken on the vehicle stickers.
Giglio also said the elimination of a “tax” on the residents was a political move.
“I think the timing of this is suspect,” Giglio said. “We have an upcoming election in April.”
But Mayor Joe Werner said the topic was discussed at an Oct. 8 meeting.
“I think we’ve demonstrated for a long time that that isn’t how we function,” Werner said.
Giglio, who said he isn’t planning to run for public office, said Tuesday he felt “disenfranchised” by the board’s actions.
“I’m not some nut job who runs around trying to get things done,” Giglio said. “It seems they don’t want any public input.”