Let the people decide

By on March 26, 2009

MP police referendum puts question to voters
by Lynn Meredith
All referendum questions have one thing in common: They all ask for money to pay for services. Maple Park’s police referendum is no different. It is seeking additional dollars to help fund police department operations.

The Village Board members agree that the department does not have enough money to operate effectively. They are asking for what amounts to taxes of $16 more per year on a $100,000 house for the first year and small increases through 2012.

Currently, five part-time officers provide 56 hours of patrol coverage each week. Additionally, an officer is on-call for one eight-hour shift every 24 hours. If an emergency arises when no patrol coverage is provided, Maple Park relies on the Kane County Sheriff’s Department to respond to the scene and stabilize the situation until an on-call officer from Maple Park can arrive.

“The police referendum that is on the ballot, if passed, would be a revenue stream that would support the Police Department in general,” Trustee Kathy Curtis said.

With a police budget of $93,000, the department faces the issue of not only paying the costly on-call hours, but also retaining enough officers to staff the force.

“They are not overpaid,” President Ross Dueringer said. “We’re giving them $16 an hour to take a bullet.”
While all the trustees agree that the question should be placed on the ballot, trustee Terry Borg does not support its passage.

“Until this board gets our act together, until we exhaust all avenues of aid from the county, we can’t expect anybody to vote for increases in taxes,” Borg said. “I did vote to place the referendum (on the ballot). I believe citizens should have the opportunity to vote on it.”

He sees problems with the use of on-call to operate the Police Department.

“The on-call policy is a budget-breaker for us,” Borg said.

Dueringer is not happy with the arrangement, but said they are doing the best they can with limited funds. He advocates passing the referendum to help solve the issues.

Borg said that internal politics have gotten in the way of hiring a police chief.

“Why do we not have a police chief? I continue to ask that question. We’ve spent $1,000 or more on ads,” Borg said.

Curtis said that since the board could not stop arguing about money and that there simply is not enough, the best thing is to put the issue to the residents.