Board members feeling ‘out of the loop’

By on November 8, 2013

Question whether meeting twice a month is enough
ELBURN—The move for the Elburn Village Board to meet twice a month instead of four times a month has caused some trustees to feel “out of the loop,” as noted during some of the discussions that took place on Monday.

During a presentation by Finance Director Doug Elder on a proposed property tax levy for the village, trustee Jeff Walter said he was concerned that he didn’t know how village staff had arrived at the amount Elder presented.

Trustees eventually unanimously approved the proposed levy amount for $824,000 and set a public hearing for Monday, Dec. 2, at Village Hall. The public hearing is necessary because the amount is more than 105 percent of the previous year’s extension of $695,000.

However, the discussion preceding the vote revealed the discomfort of several of the trustees due to the increased time between the meetings and the amount of time they have to review the information prior to the meetings.

“It seems like we’re going into this without much discussion,” Walter said. “We have a number here on paper and I’m not sure where this number came from. It’s like, ‘Here’s the number, guys. Let’s vote on it.’”

Up until last summer, the Village Board met on the first and third Mondays of the month, with the Committee of the Whole meetings scheduled for the second and fourth Mondays.

The Committee of the Whole meetings are when discussion regarding items before the board takes place. The Village Board meetings are where votes are taken to approve those items.

A few months ago, the board began meeting twice a month on the first and third Mondays, with both the Committee of the Whole and the Village Board meetings taking place on the same evening.

Trustees receive the packet of information on the Friday prior to the Monday meetings, which Walter said leaves little time for them to review the items and prepare.

“I’m not feeling like we’re in the loop anymore,” Walter said. “We should be coming in here completely prepared to vote on the issues. We really need time to digest this stuff.”

Village President Dave Anderson mentioned the weekly report that Village Administrator Erin Willrett sends out to board members, encouraging them to call her or other staff members with questions. He noted that he was at Village Hall every day.

“And I’m not,” trustee Dave Gualdoni responded. “Some of this stuff needs to be discussed by everyone at this table, and it’s not.”

Trustee Bill Grabarek said that meeting only twice a month during the summer made sense when not as much was happening, but now that the village is seeing more activity, meeting more often might be warranted.

Trustee Ken Anderson, who works for Kane County, said they meet once a month, and keep up with issues through the use of executive summaries.

Dave Anderson said he prefers meeting less frequently, because it allows Village Administrator Erin Willrett to be more efficient, with less time preparing for board meetings and more time to do her job.

Grabarek said he could see both sides of the issue. However, he stated that he could see an advantage to meeting four times a month.

Since trustees Ethan Hastert and Pat Schuberg were not in attendance at the meeting, the other board members agreed to continue the discussion when they could all participate.