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CASA

Chicago, IL

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#1
Nov 14, 2013
 
Blue Island is facing a “financial debacle,” and letters warning employees of potential layoffs and furloughs went out last week, according to Mayor Domingo Vargas.
During a city council meeting Tuesday night, Vargas announced that “expenses are exceeding revenues” this year by $2.4 million, and the city’s accumulated deficit over the past five years has reached $7.1 million.
During his State of the City address, Vargas, who was elected in April, pointed the finger at the previous administration of former Mayor Donald Peloquin for overspending and borrowing from the city’s water fund and special taxing district accounts with “no plan how to pay them back.”
Peloquin, who was first elected mayor in 1985, told me during a telephone interview Wednesday that while Blue Island has been in financial trouble for years, its debt wasn’t nearly as large as Vargas maintains when Peloquin left office last spring.
“We had an audit, and there was about $750,000 in debt at the time,” he said.“But the state owed us something like $600,000 in overdue tax distribution payments.”
Vargas told me the city also had borrowed from pension funds, but Peloquin said rather than borrowing from the funds, the city simply didn’t keep up with its payments.
“The state has a formula for maintaining the pension fund, as you know, and that includes making larger payments into the pension fund if it doesn’t earn as much interest in certain years,” Peloquin said.“Well, revenues have been flat in Blue Island for some time. We do not have home-rule powers that would allow us to raise tax rates.
“So we have to find the money in other places. We borrowed from the water fund and other funds, but we always paid that money back when new revenues came in from other sources.”
Told of Peloquin’s comments, Vargas said the city did borrow from pension funds and other funds and the money wasn’t always paid back.
“We have another audit coming due, and it will show the entire picture,” Vargas said.“In coming days, I will be meeting with aldermen because even they are not fully aware of how dire the financial situation is. After I have met with the aldermen, I will explain this all in further detail to residents.”
Blue Island is so desperate for money that the mayor has asked the Blue Island Library for a loan of about $1 million. The library has its own board of directors but levies tax revenue through the city.
“We are exploring every contingency,” Vargas said, when I asked him about the library loan.“We have to stop the bleeding, and we’re taking a number of steps to do that.”
He said the city in the past has been refused bank loans backed by tax anticipation notes, but he’s planning to meet with another local bank this week to discuss the situation.
After Vargas read his statement at the council meeting, Ald. Christine Buckner-Cheatle (1st) said,“Many of us were in office when these decisions were made. We voted on these things. It’s time to stop blaming the previous administration for everything and move on.”
But on Wednesday, Vargas (who was an alderman before becoming mayor) told me that aldermen were not fully aware of the extent of the borrowing.
“We weren’t privy to everything that was taking place,” Vargas, an attorney in private practice, said.“The aldermen will discover they didn’t know everything as I share the details of the situation with them.”
He said the main problem seemed to be overspending as revenue remained flat in Blue Island. The rising costs of pensions for city employees, health insurance and payroll were particularly troublesome.

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CASA

Chicago, IL

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#2
Nov 14, 2013
 
“We are going to stop the bleeding,” Vargas promised residents during the State of the City message.“We are taking drastic action to arrive at a solution to this.”
During a public participation session before Vargas made his announcement, several residents complained about “new hires” and “new positions” created by his administration, claiming that the city spent money on payroll while allowing the recreation center in the California Gardens section of town to deteriorate. They said the recreation center’s roof leaked, the toilets didn’t work and the building had been closed since February.
City Treasurer Carmine Bilotto denied any new hiring, saying new positions were filled by people already on staff and only their titles changed.
One of the people holding a new city job is John Rita Jr., the son of former Mayor John Rita and brother of state Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island). Rita Jr., a former lieutenant in the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, is the public works director at a salary of “about $90,000 a year,” according to Vargas.
“But we don’t have a police chief, and we are very fortunate to have someone with Rita’s qualifications working for us,” Vargas said, acknowledging that critics would suggest nepotism was behind the hire.“He is performing far more duties for us than a police chief — overseeing all aspects of public safety in the city.”
Vargas said furlough notices went out only to nonunion employees and that he didn’t anticipate any layoffs of police and fire department employees, who are union members.
“But we have eliminated overtime, which has saved us a substantial amount of money,” the mayor said.
Vargas touted a presentation at the council meeting by Jen-Care, a company that provides health care services to senior citizens with chronic diseases and that’s negotiating a lease with the owner of the long-vacant Kline’s Department Store building on Vermont Street.
He said a new owner also has been found for the Lyric Theater, 129th Street and Western Avenue.
Blue Island, like many south suburbs, has lost many of its businesses in recent decades and has been unable to replace them.
The bridges at Chatham and Division streets have been shut down to vehicle traffic because the city lacks the money to maintain them.
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Economics 101

Chicago, IL

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#3
Nov 15, 2013
 
CASA wrote:
Blue Island is facing a “financial debacle,” and letters warning employees of potential layoffs and furloughs went out last week, according to Mayor Domingo Vargas.
During a city council meeting Tuesday night, Vargas announced that “expenses are exceeding revenues” this year by $2.4 million, and the city’s accumulated deficit over the past five years has reached $7.1 million.
During his State of the City address, Vargas, who was elected in April, pointed the finger at the previous administration of former Mayor Donald Peloquin for overspending and borrowing from the city’s water fund and special taxing district accounts with “no plan how to pay them back.”
Peloquin, who was first elected mayor in 1985, told me during a telephone interview Wednesday that while Blue Island has been in financial trouble for years, its debt wasn’t nearly as large as Vargas maintains when Peloquin left office last spring.
“We had an audit, and there was about $750,000 in debt at the time,” he said.“But the state owed us something like $600,000 in overdue tax distribution payments.”
Vargas told me the city also had borrowed from pension funds, but Peloquin said rather than borrowing from the funds, the city simply didn’t keep up with its payments.
“The state has a formula for maintaining the pension fund, as you know, and that includes making larger payments into the pension fund if it doesn’t earn as much interest in certain years,” Peloquin said.“Well, revenues have been flat in Blue Island for some time. We do not have home-rule powers that would allow us to raise tax rates.
“So we have to find the money in other places. We borrowed from the water fund and other funds, but we always paid that money back when new revenues came in from other sources.”
Told of Peloquin’s comments, Vargas said the city did borrow from pension funds and other funds and the money wasn’t always paid back.
“We have another audit coming due, and it will show the entire picture,” Vargas said.“In coming days, I will be meeting with aldermen because even they are not fully aware of how dire the financial situation is. After I have met with the aldermen, I will explain this all in further detail to residents.”
Blue Island is so desperate for money that the mayor has asked the Blue Island Library for a loan of about $1 million. The library has its own board of directors but levies tax revenue through the city.
“We are exploring every contingency,” Vargas said, when I asked him about the library loan.“We have to stop the bleeding, and we’re taking a number of steps to do that.”
He said the city in the past has been refused bank loans backed by tax anticipation notes, but he’s planning to meet with another local bank this week to discuss the situation.
After Vargas read his statement at the council meeting, Ald. Christine Buckner-Cheatle (1st) said,“Many of us were in office when these decisions were made. We voted on these things. It’s time to stop blaming the previous administration for everything and move on.”
But on Wednesday, Vargas (who was an alderman before becoming mayor) told me that aldermen were not fully aware of the extent of the borrowing.
“We weren’t privy to everything that was taking place,” Vargas, an attorney in private practice, said.“The aldermen will discover they didn’t know everything as I share the details of the situation with them.”
He said the main problem seemed to be overspending as revenue remained flat in Blue Island. The rising costs of pensions for city employees, health insurance and payroll were particularly troublesome.
After Six Months in Office Mayor Vargas; you may want to "stop spending beyond your means and astronomical salaries for your political appointees!"
Budget

Chicago, IL

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#4
Nov 15, 2013
 
CASA wrote:
Blue Island is facing a “financial debacle,” and letters warning employees of potential layoffs and furloughs went out last week, according to Mayor Domingo Vargas.
During a city council meeting Tuesday night, Vargas announced that “expenses are exceeding revenues” this year by $2.4 million, and the city’s accumulated deficit over the past five years has reached $7.1 million.
During his State of the City address, Vargas, who was elected in April, pointed the finger at the previous administration of former Mayor Donald Peloquin for overspending and borrowing from the city’s water fund and special taxing district accounts with “no plan how to pay them back.”
Peloquin, who was first elected mayor in 1985, told me during a telephone interview Wednesday that while Blue Island has been in financial trouble for years, its debt wasn’t nearly as large as Vargas maintains when Peloquin left office last spring.
“We had an audit, and there was about $750,000 in debt at the time,” he said.“But the state owed us something like $600,000 in overdue tax distribution payments.”
Vargas told me the city also had borrowed from pension funds, but Peloquin said rather than borrowing from the funds, the city simply didn’t keep up with its payments.
“The state has a formula for maintaining the pension fund, as you know, and that includes making larger payments into the pension fund if it doesn’t earn as much interest in certain years,” Peloquin said.“Well, revenues have been flat in Blue Island for some time. We do not have home-rule powers that would allow us to raise tax rates.
“So we have to find the money in other places. We borrowed from the water fund and other funds, but we always paid that money back when new revenues came in from other sources.”
Told of Peloquin’s comments, Vargas said the city did borrow from pension funds and other funds and the money wasn’t always paid back.
“We have another audit coming due, and it will show the entire picture,” Vargas said.“In coming days, I will be meeting with aldermen because even they are not fully aware of how dire the financial situation is. After I have met with the aldermen, I will explain this all in further detail to residents.”
Blue Island is so desperate for money that the mayor has asked the Blue Island Library for a loan of about $1 million. The library has its own board of directors but levies tax revenue through the city.
“We are exploring every contingency,” Vargas said, when I asked him about the library loan.“We have to stop the bleeding, and we’re taking a number of steps to do that.”
He said the city in the past has been refused bank loans backed by tax anticipation notes, but he’s planning to meet with another local bank this week to discuss the situation.
After Vargas read his statement at the council meeting, Ald. Christine Buckner-Cheatle (1st) said,“Many of us were in office when these decisions were made. We voted on these things. It’s time to stop blaming the previous administration for everything and move on.”
But on Wednesday, Vargas (who was an alderman before becoming mayor) told me that aldermen were not fully aware of the extent of the borrowing.
“We weren’t privy to everything that was taking place,” Vargas, an attorney in private practice, said.“The aldermen will discover they didn’t know everything as I share the details of the situation with them.”
He said the main problem seemed to be overspending as revenue remained flat in Blue Island. The rising costs of pensions for city employees, health insurance and payroll were particularly troublesome.
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After Six Months in Office Mayor Vargas; you may want to "stop spending beyond your means and astronomical salaries for your political appointees!"
Stop Spending

Chicago, IL

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#5
Nov 15, 2013
 

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After Six Months in Office Mayor Vargas; you may want to "stop spending beyond your means and astronomical salaries for your political appointees!"
tired

Homer Glen, IL

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#6
Nov 15, 2013
 
If no new positions were created what about the new guy at the water dept,the new guy at the building dept, and Mario's newly created position for him to over see all abandoned homes in town and let's not forget John rita's brand new position. from what I heard also on a side note I heard vargas plans on stepping down next year from his mayor position and aappointing John rita as the new mayor.
Really Tired

Chicago, IL

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#7
Nov 15, 2013
 
Vargas should be tired of spreading horse manure at the city ouncil meetings and all over town.........spin, spin, spin.
City Hall Fails Again

Chicago, IL

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#8
Nov 17, 2013
 
Severe storms moving through the area with NO Notification from City hall or The Director of Safety. Why?
Pro-Vargas

Orland Park, IL

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#9
Nov 17, 2013
 
tired wrote:
If no new positions were created what about the new guy at the water dept,the new guy at the building dept, and Mario's newly created position for him to over see all abandoned homes in town and let's not forget John rita's brand new position. from what I heard also on a side note I heard vargas plans on stepping down next year from his mayor position and aappointing John rita as the new mayor.
Mayor Vargas is not stepping down. Wow Tired you should really find someone new to get your information from. You are "hearing" wrong information you fool:p
Direct Result

Chicago, IL

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#10
Nov 18, 2013
 
City Hall Fails Again wrote:
Severe storms moving through the area with NO Notification from City hall or The Director of Safety. Why?
Why was there notification from the city? Why are so many incompetent people who are not doing their job in appointed positions Mayor Vargas?
Citizen of Blue Island

Chicago, IL

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#11
Nov 18, 2013
 
Direct Result wrote:
<quoted text>
Why was there notification from the city? Why are so many incompetent people who are not doing their job in appointed positions Mayor Vargas?
LOL!!!! You are funny! Smoking some happy weed are we? Did you bring enough to share with everyone here?
Risk

Chicago, IL

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#12
Nov 18, 2013
 
Direct Result wrote:
<quoted text>
Why was there notification from the city? Why are so many incompetent people who are not doing their job in appointed positions Mayor Vargas?
Vargas Needs to be Reported.
Unacceptable

Chicago, IL

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#13
Nov 18, 2013
 
Really Tired wrote:
Vargas should be tired of spreading horse manure at the city ouncil meetings and all over town.........spin, spin, spin.
Terrible, terrible. Vargas has out everyone and everything at risk for personal gain.
City Jerk

United States

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#14
Nov 19, 2013
 
Civil defense sirens did sound off several times during the storm. Is it possible that 50% of them don't function.
Priorities

New Lenox, IL

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#15
Nov 21, 2013
 
City Jerk wrote:
Civil defense sirens did sound off several times during the storm. Is it possible that 50% of them don't function.
I think the new paid ESDA Director should probably make sure the sirens work? Maybe he was rushing the mayor to the PEOC during the storm.
One Debacle after Another

Chicago, IL

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#16
Nov 21, 2013
 

Judged:

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Mayor Vargas and his team are struggling with Decisions, Essential Equipment functionality, Daily Operations, You need to put the citizenry first.
Inc Debt

Chicago, IL

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#17
Nov 22, 2013
 
Economics 101 wrote:
<quoted text>
After Six Months in Office Mayor Vargas; you may want to "stop spending beyond your means and astronomical salaries for your political appointees!"
All of these political appointees without documented skills, credentials, and astronomical salaries can not be justified; in light of the mayor's report regarding the current municipal debt.

Will the mayor announce shortly; the taxpayers will pay for them all to attend community college classes during work hours?
No End in Sight

Chicago, IL

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#18
Nov 23, 2013
 
The main problem continues to be overspending that has doubled and in somes instances trippled under the new administration as revenue remained flat in Blue Island.

Balance the Budget!
Leroy James

Mishawaka, IN

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#19
Nov 23, 2013
 
No End in Sight wrote:
The main problem continues to be overspending that has doubled and in somes instances trippled under the new administration as revenue remained flat in Blue Island.
Balance the Budget!
. Yeah, just like the federal government ... Lead by the democrats ... In it for themselves by keeping people enslaved to
government ( OUR MONEY) hand-outs and supporting fat Union pensions. Change YOU can believe in! Mr VArgas cannot claim ignorance as he voted for all of the programs of the past administration and now following orders from Rita.
The people of Blue Island deserve better!
Familiar Story

Chicago, IL

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#20
Nov 23, 2013
 
Kadner: Dixmoor to disband fire department

By Phil Kadner November 20, 2013 9:16PM

Updated: November 21, 2013 9:19PM

Financially struggling Dixmoor has decided to dissolve its fire department at the end of the month.

In a letter dated Tuesday, the village attorney notified the union representing fire department employees “that this shall serve as notice that the Village will be moving forward with implementing the dissolution of the Fire Department. The final effective date shall be December 1, 2013.”

Earlier this year, newly elected Mayor Dorothy Armstrong said Dixmoor was facing a budget deficit of more than $1 million. Armstrong said it was costing the village $773,000 a year, a third of its revenue, to maintain its fire department, which had 20 firefighters.

I tried to reach Armstrong for comment but was unsuccessful. However, several village employees confirmed that the fire department was being disbanded Dec. 1.

“The new mayor has been trying to do this for three years, going back to the time when she was a trustee,” said Tim McDonald, president of Local 73 of the Service Employees International Union, which represents the employees.“The village board passed a resolution during a special meeting this week to disband the department and didn’t even allow for public comment before the vote was taken.

“When she (Armstrong) called for a vote, trustees asked if they could comment, and the mayor told them they could comment after the roll call. This is a joke, and this is why Dixmoor will always be looked on as a joke by serious people.”

McDonald said that even before the village board voted to dissolve the fire department, it had laid off six of the 12 full-time firefighters. The village also employs about a dozen part-timers.

A firefighter who said “we’re not allowed to talk publicly about this” told me that Dixmoor is planning to have the Harvey Fire Department provide fire protection for the village and to pay a private ambulance service to provide paramedics.

“I called the Harvey clerk, and they (city council) don’t even have a meeting scheduled until Dec. 9, so I don’t know what Dixmoor is going to do after Nov. 30, the last effective date our guys will be working,” McDonald said.

Dixmoor is one of the smallest and poorest suburbs in the Chicago area, with a population of 3,644, according to the 2010 census. It showed that the median household income was $38,817 and 35.6 percent of Dixmoor residents live in poverty.

The village has a history of political scandals. For a time, it had a park district police force of more than 100 part-time officers and a full-time police chief — even though the park district owned only one park.

No one mowed the grass at the small park, the cyclone fence was rusting and all the playground equipment was broken or unusable. A bond issue of more than $100,000 had been sold to build a fieldhouse, but no fieldhouse was built.

A former park board president and several other park district officials eventually went to prison for stealing the district funds.

In another scandal, Donald Luster, who was elected mayor in 2001, promising to “Bring the Luster back to Dixmoor,” was sentenced to two years on probation for fraud and failing to file an Illinois income tax return. He had collected unemployment insurance during 1999 while earning more than $9,000 a week.

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