Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Board Meeting
March 4, 2021
All Commissioners present
All agenda items were approved, except for Agenda Item #19 (21-0181), authority to advertise a contract for testing and repairing underground storage tanks, which was deleted by the Executive Director.
Only a few items were pulled out for discussion, and most of the discussion related to remembering former MWRD Commissioner and President Terrence J. O’Brien who recently died and celebrating 14-year old Dorothy Jean Tillman from the Chicago south side who received her Masters degree in environmental science in 2020. Ms. Tillman has created the Dorothy Jeanius STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) Educational Leadership Institute to create an environment where adolescents can pair arts with technology. During the pandemic she has created at home STEAM kits for adolescents, and has also reached out to South African youth.
Following are a few items noted from the agenda and meeting:
Observer - Priscilla Mims Length of meeting: 1 hour and 20 minutes
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting
December 17, 2020
All Board members in attendance at various times
After amending the budget passed on December 10 to include a small salary increase for non-union employees, the Board approved a $1.2 billion budget for 2021 - an increase of $52,812 million over 2020. FTE’s are budgeted at 1,941 which is a decrease of 12 employees.
All agenda items were passed.
Items of Interest:
Green Alley Projects - Intergovernmental Agreements:
Intergovernmental Agreement with Chicago
Observer: Diane Edmundson Length of Meeting 3 hrs.
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District
Public Hearing on 2021 Tentative Budget
December 2, 2020
7 Commissioners present, with Comm. Garcia absent.
There were 3 comments.
Both Ryan Wilson of the Metropolitan Planning Council and John Legg of the Nature Conservancy separately urged that the MWRD appoint one person to head-up and be the point person for the MWRD’s Stormwater Trading Pilot that was adopted earlier this year. While the failure of any developer to take advantage of this program may be due to COVID, both entities feel that having one dedicated person to head this pilot is crucial for its success. Both also pointed to the Washington, D.C. project as an example of all that needs to be done to successfully launch the program. The duties of this point person would include conveying consistent messaging to municipalities and developers and identifying barriers to getting the program launched, including any legislative barriers.
Chelsey Grassfield of the Friends of the Chicago River urged that the MWRD reassess its real estate holdings of 6,000 some acres for use as stormwater management, as opposed to being looked upon as development opportunities. Comm. Morita said that the MWRD has begun a land-use audit to look at best use for the land: lease-out vs. leaving vacant for stormwater management. Ms. Grassfield also stated that Friends had observed some instances at meeting where the attorneys representing the MWRD stated things that appeared to be inconsistent with MWRD policy. The Commissioners and Executive Director wanted more details, which Ms. Grassfield said she would provide.
Observer: Priscilla Mims Length of meeting: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Special Meeting of the MWRD’s Committee on the Budget & Employment
November 5, 2020
On October 13, the Executive Director presented his 2021 budget recommendation. At today’s meeting, the Committee voted to accept some slight increases to that recommendation, which still result in a small overall decrease from 2020 of 2.1% currently. The proposed 2021 tax levy may increase by 1.1%. However, all numbers could still change before final approval of the budget, scheduled for December 17.
Proposed budget as it currently stands (incorporating changes approved on Nov. 5);
At this meeting, all major department areas of the MWRD presented highlights of their accomplishments in 2020, along with key initiatives for 2021, all of which are reflected in the Executive Recommendation, as amended at this meeting. These areas include:
Stormwater Management Fund --
Procurement & Materials Management – moved up and fully implemented electronic bidding and signature process as a result of needs due to COVID-19
General Administration – Planned space\use study halted due to COVID; no provision to do this in 2021 budget. In Diversity section, President Steele said she wanted to add a position. Plan is to conduct an affirmative action disparity study for purposes of evaluating MWRD’s Affirmative Action Policy. With regard to Public Affairs, Comm. Du Buclet asked how the MWRD can be more visible to the public. Comm. Garcia wants translator to appear at more events.
Board of Commissioners (includes Treasurer and Legislative Section) – Comm. Shore would like to put excess funding released from TIF districts toward Retirement Fund, as was done last year. Told would be done. Currently expecting $19 M.
Retirement Fund – at 56% funding and holding steady
Additional Comments at end from Comm. Davis:
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting
December 19, 2019
The Board passed its final 2020 budget without discussion while emphasizing that it represents a $70 million or 5.7% decrease from 2019. The estimated tax levy is $652.6 million [up 1.4% from 2019], and full time equivalent employees are down 14 from 2019 at 1,953. This represents no significant change from the budget that was tentatively approved on December 12.
Of interest is where the Corporate Fund money goes [in millions]:
Construction & Design $254.4 / 23.4%
Bond Redemption & Interest 233.0 / 21.4%
Plant Operations & Maintenance 202.6 / 18.6%
Staff Services 127.8 / 11.8%
Stormwater Management 116.3 / 10.7%
Retirement Fund 87.3 / 8.0%
Claims & Judgments 34.4 / 3.2%
Monitoring & Research 31.5 / 2.9%
The Board passed a one-year continuation of its intergovernmental agreement with the Cook County Sheriff’s office to continue and expand its very successful drug disposal program of expired and unwanted over the counter and prescription drugs. The purposes of which is to maximize the volume of drugs prevented from reaching and polluting Illinois waterways. Budgeted at $100,000. Commissioners want to expand to city halls and anywhere that dispenses drugs as collection sites. The Sheriff’s office wants to offer a mail back option for the elderly and disabled.
An on-site Mobile and Testing Service Contract was approved, but Commissioner Spyropoulos asked that information regarding the times use, the length of time the District has engaged in this contract, and what other options might be available for drug testing be provided to all commissioners for future consideration.
Published and filed was a report on public notification of significant industrial users having exemplary compliance and records and industrial users significantly violating pretreatment standards or other requirements. Commissioner Garcia asked if penalties could be increased. The Executive Director said staff would check it out.
Observer: Diane Edmundson Meeting Length 90 min.
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board - Special Meeting
December 12, 2019
In 30 minutes, the Board passed the 2020 Budget which reflected additional changes to the Tentative Budget from November 7. The vote was 8 to 0, with Commissioner McGowan being absent. Following are some highlights:
Further changes to the 2020 budget may be considered at the regular Board meeting on December 19, at which time the budget will be finalized.
Observer - Priscilla Mims
Individual authors are credited at the end of each report.