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Village Vision News

Residents raise questions at candidate forum

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Although the result was never in doubt, a public forum held prior to the April 5 consolidated election introduced Forsyth’s newest trustee, Kerstin Trachtenberg, and reacquainted residents with incumbent trustees Bob Rasho and Larry Reed. The three ran unopposed for four-year terms on the Village Board in the April 5 elections.

Village Administrator Heather Kimmons acted as the forum’s facilitator for an audience of less than 30. Fiscal responsibility to taxpayers was a recurrent theme as the three candidates spoke to the crowd.

Resident Mary Scott addressed what she perceived as duplicate attorney services within the Village as she broached the subject of using taxpayer money to “…have a Village attorney if we have a person [Village Administrator Kimmons] who is an attorney.”

Reed offered that Kimmons was hired as administrator, not as attorney and that the Village needed a designated attorney with the background and resources to get the job done.

“That’s not a hard and fast rule,” Scott countered, in charging that her personal experience resulted in quicker responses from Kimmons than from the current Village attorney when she has asked legal questions. Village resident Leo Moreland agreed with Rasho’s assessment that it was the staff’s responsibility to determine if taxpayer money was being spent wisely on legal bills.

Kimmons expanded on Rasho’s comment, acknowledging that trustees disagree about the role of Village attorney. She suggested that RFPs (request for proposals) be solicited to see what options exist for both the professional contracts of the Village attorney and the Village engineer.

The need for public safety with a focus on keeping infrastructure updated was a priority advanced by Trachtenberg and shared by her counterparts. Also, all three candidates listened to resident and former trustee Don Van Lyssel, who is also Kimmons’ father, as he connected the issue of public safety to law enforcement within the Village. He said a need exists to return the deputies’ headquarters to Village Hall instead of Hickory Point Mall. Kimmons noted she was “…100 percent positive there will be a clause in the contract stating that the sheriff’s office will be back at Village Hall.” She currently is negotiating a new three-year contract with the sheriff’s office.

Former trustee Lowell Mielke’s question about the feasibility of expanding Village Hall drew mixed responses, including one from Reed who said the expansion idea was “…a no brainer if all other things are in place” or if any other building or better place were to be available. Trachtenberg said she was not in favor of spending for an expansion at this time, but did think it was expedient to find a way for the deputies to have office space in Village Hall.

Kimmons acknowledged that a plan was in place to spend $20,000 in the new fiscal year to add partitions in Village Hall with remodeled cubicles and a new reception area. “I would not advocate what the previous administrator was recommending,” Kimmons said, referring to a 2009 space needs analysis by an architectural firm. The main thrust of that study was to see how the Village met current life safety code issue, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and security, as well as operational effectiveness.

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