Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trustees suspend their wages in symbolic fight for better economy

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Trustees suspend their wages in symbolic fight for better economy
By Ray Hanania
(Village of Justice Media Writer)

The Village of Justice's five trustees unanimously voted to adopt a resolution asking all elected officials of the Village of Justice to suspend their wages for the remainder of calendar/fiscal year 2010 as a means of demonstrating leadership and helping offset the budget deficit that the Village will face in the coming months. 

Trustee Phil DePaola said the Village completed an analysis of its budget and concluded that there is “no quick fix” for the economic challenges facing the Village of Justice.

The resolution asked the Village’s elected officials, who are all part-time, to agree to voluntarily forgo their monthly wages in order to strengthen the public resolve to fight to improve the economy.

“We need to lead by example … this job can’t be about pay,” DePaola explained in presenting the resolution for a vote.

Each of the trustees, including newly installed trustee John Koslowski, voted to suspend their own pay. No one was forced to surrender their pay, the resolution was strictly voluntary. Mayor Kris Wasowicz, who is part-time and has been covering much of his office expenses through his wages and Clerk Kathleen Svoboda whose salary is her only source of income declined to participate.

“As we move into our 2011 budget and continue to have hardships, we need to address the financial issues facing our Village,” said Trustee Kinga Bartoszek, the primary sponsor of the resolution. Bartoszek, who was interviewed on WBBM AM Radio prior to the board meeting, said she hoped that not only would the move reinforce public confidence that the village board is serious about tackling the budget challenges but that it might also spread to other suburban communities.

“I think this is a good step for other suburban communities to take action and demonstrate leadership. As public servants we have to strengthen public confidence in good government. We were elected by the residents and entrusted to be good stewards of this Village's resources,” Bartoszek said.

Trustee Mary McGee also supported the resolution, saying, “I will participate. With the current economy and the way it has impacted families we need to demonstrate leadership. … Leading by example is a principle that I follow in my personal life.”

Newly installed Trustee John Koslowski told the board, “I feel we are here not for money but to make the village a better place to live. A lot of people in this village are willing to sacrifice and I am willing to do so too. We need to come together as a community and I believe this is a good move forward to strengthen that community spirit.”

Trustee George Pastorino also said he supports the resolution and agrees to suspend his salary, explaining “ We are doing the right thing. The Village needs some help now and Leadership is called for, that must start with us.”

DePaola emphasized that the move was not politically motivated nor should any judgments be made about officials who could or could not participate in the voluntary salary suspension. “Do not hold it against anyone who cannot do this pledge,” DePaola said.

The resolution will continue through the end of the Fiscal Year, Dec. 31, 2010.

Pastorino also responded strongly to one member of the audience who tried to turn the issue into a political statement, saying that the community members he has spoken to support the measure and believe the village is moving in the right direction.

“We’re doing many good things in the Village of Justice and we will not let a small handful of people who do nothing but complain derail the progress this village is making in order to move forward,” Pastorino said.

“We have a new trustee, John Koslowski, who has a long history living in Justice with his family joining our board. He brings with him his experience, his passion for this community and his enthusiasm that will help us move forward. We’re very proud of the direction and the achievements we are seeing. We need to continue to work together in order to move this Village in the next direction.”


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