Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - December 13, 2018
Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget on December 6, 2018
By an 8-0 vote, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Board took just 15 minutes to approve 11 items which resulted in a $1,203,988,541 budget for 2019. This is $53 million more than 2018, or a 4.6% increase. The property tax levy was raised to $643 million, an increase over 2018 of $20 million, or 3.3%. There was no discussion. (Commissioner Morita was absent.)
Next Step: The Board will consider amendments to the 2019 budget at the December 20 meeting, at which time the 2019 budget will be finalized.
Relevant Comments from December 6 Public Hearing on the Proposed Budget
The 2019 Budget that was passed on December 13 included a number of changes from the Tentative Budget Recommendation by the MWRD Executive Director dated October 13, and additional changes from the 2019 Tentative Budget published on November 20 (which reflected amendments to the October 13 Executive Director’s Recommendation).
At the December 6 Public Hearing, the Civic Federation, while overall supportive of the proposed budget, pointed out how confusing and difficult it is to review and comment on this ever-changing budget. The Civic Federation’s recommendation was that the final form of the budget that is to be considered by the Board should be published and made available to the public ahead of time. This is particularly important, said the Civic Federation, because the version of the budget passed by the Board often includes significant increases in the total appropriations and property tax levy from those contained in the Executive Director’s original recommendation, as well as from the Tentative Budget.
In this case, the version passed by the Board on December 13 varied from both the October 13 and November 20 versions (which is the version the Civic Federation reviewed and commented on) in a number of ways, including:
December 13 October 13 November 20
Total Appropriations: $1,203,988,541 $1,079,658,141 $1,092,299,141
Tax Levy: $ 642,783,809 $ 640,649,270 $ 640,649,270
The Civic Federation also recommended that the MWRD analyze the effect on its pension funding and have fall-back plans in case the District’s pension reform law were to be successfully challenged.
Observer - Priscilla Mims
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - December 6, 2018
This was the first Board meeting attended by the 3 new Board members elected in November: Cameron Davis, Kimberly DuBuclet, and Marcelino Garcia. All actively took part in the meeting, which was notable more for the discussion that occurred, than for the decisions made.
Issue of Property Insurance
Award to Chicago Tribune
Observer - Priscila Mims
Length of meeting: 2 hours, 5 minutes, including a 5-minute break and 25-minute Executive Session.
Metropolitan Water & Reclamation District Committee on Budget & Employment
Departmental Presentations for 2019 Budget - November 1, 2018
Acting Executive Director John Murray gave an overview of the proposed 2019 budget:
Each Department Head gave a short presentation of 2018 accomplishments and plans for 2019.
Next steps in the budget process:
Observer: Priscilla Mims
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - November 15, 2018
What the Board Decided:
Many of the same November 1st board meeting speakers against the MWRD authorizing an easement to the Cook County Roads and Transportation Department for the environmentally vulnerable Canal Shores land in Wilmette and Evanston, spoke again at this meeting. However, the board voted 5-4 to grant the easement. Commissioners Voting Yes: Dunkin, Durkin, McGowan, Steele, and Walsh. Commissioners Voting No: Avila, Morita, Shore, and Spyropoulos. Messrs. Dunkin, Durkin, and Walsh are leaving the board as a result of the November election.
MWRD Commissioners also approved Resolution #18-1147 adopting a policy to provide contractor opportunities for Veteran owned and operated small businesses. The board would require the Veterans to be honorably discharged, released due to hardship or disability and be a member of the Armed Forces for at least six months to qualify. The goal is that at least 3% of MWRD contracts will be awarded to Veteran run businesses. Small business, women’s, and minority enterprises will still receive the current mandates and will not be impacted by the additional 3%.
Observer - Patricia Lind Meeting Length: 3 hours
Easement Controversy Over Road Construction on North Shore Channel Property Dominates Water District Board Meeting
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - November 1, 2018
Commissioners present: all except Josina Morita.
Public Comment time at this meeting concerned the following.
Summary of Issue:
The Cook County Dept. of Transportation made a request for an easement for a road to be built across the tenth hole of Canal Shores Golf Course in Wilmette. The Keefe Trust is the actual party benefiting from said easement. The Trust purchased the property several decades ago with the knowledge that there was no road to the parcel. Since the Wilmette Park District leases the land which contains the golf course, the Keefe Trust applied for permission to build a road across the tenth hole of the course, running alongside existing houses at Golf Terrace. Wilmette Park District denied application stating this was a use of public land for private profit.
It is unclear why Cook County and its transportation department became involved and made this request to the MWRD Board when the beneficiary of the easement grant would be the Keefe Trust.
Thirty-three citizens against the easement testified over a period of three hours, making the following points:
Comments/questions from Commissioners:
Observer - Georgia Gebhardt Meeting length: three hours (10:45 a.m.-1:45 p.m.)
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) Board Meeting - October 18, 2018
What did the Board decide?
Since 2015, the MWRD has worked with potential partners to increase bio-gas production and use at Stickney and Calumet plants. Today the Board, at staff’s request, paused the development process, voting not to accept responses to the District’s 2016 and 2017 requests for proposals.
What else did the Board discuss?
Items to watch for in the Future:
Other Comments or Observations:
Observer: Laurie Morse Meeting Length: started at 10:30 and went into Executive Session at noon.
Individual authors are credited at the end of each report.