Trustee Opposing Police Merger: 'I’d Like to Keep My Police Station in this Village'
Clarendon Hills village trustee Ed Reid voiced opposition to the proposed Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills police merger at Monday night's Clarendon Hills Village Board meeting.
While several Clarendon Hills trustees seemed open to the fact the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills police merger may not happen, only one voiced clear opposition to further exploring the idea.
Trustee Ed Reid made a motion Monday night to cease all work on the merger after he said its potential financial benefits are not worthwhile, its potential structure is a source of stress for officers, and its support in Springfield is waning.
Reid’s motion was defeated, 5-1.
“I can see outsourcing a finance department, maybe a public works department, even,” Reid said prior to his motion. “I think when you outsource a police department, it seems odd.
“I don’t consider it out of the ordinary for me to say I’d like to continue to have my own police department in my town.”
While commending Village President Tom Karaba for his work on an ambitious, “Daniel-Burnham-esque” project, Reid said the roughly $350,000 to $400,000 that the village’s staff has said a consolidated department would save is not enough to sway him.
He calculated that the average household in Clarendon Hills would see $118.72 in savings each year.
“For $118.72, I’d like to keep my police station in this village,” Reid said.
Reid agreed with trustee Allan Alongi that the ongoing negotiation and research has left Clarendon Hills officers in a state of limbo. Though the village has said no layoffs would come directly from the merger, Reid said other parts of the job are subject to change.
“There are pay issues, there are issues of retirement benefits, a whole host of issues that affect a person’s employment,” Reid said. “This has been in their head for two years. It’s a difficult situation to operate under.”
Officials from both villages have said that the dropping of Social Security benefits for Clarendon Hills officers has been the biggest hurdle in negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
Clarendon Hills Police Chief Ted Jenkins addressed the morale of the officers during Monday's meeting.
“They’d like to see this thing solved one way or another, but in the end they’re troopers and they do their job,” Jenkins said.
The FOP’s support for the merger is seen as important to the fate of legislation in Springfield that would allow the villages to pursue the unprecedented merger. Officials from both villages visited Springfield last March in an attempt to get out of committee the bill sponsored in the House by Patti Bellock and in the Senate by Kirk Dillard.
An FOP objection kept the bill from advancing then, and Reid said he takes the fact that it hasn’t resurfaced since to mean it doesn’t have a whole lot of support in the General Assembly.
“I feel they don’t want to do this,” Reid said. “I feel we’re being told no.”
Karaba said the bill has only been considered once in Springfield and that it was unrealistic to expect the General Assembly to act on it during the fall veto session because of the other business that was going on then, such as the pension debate.
Reid’s motion Monday showed that the other five trustees are not ready to abandon work on a merger entirely. Paul Pedersen, the board’s finance committee chair, sounded support for continuing work on the merger.
“I do want to keep this as an option to us because I think our village’s financial position isn’t going to be as strong going forward,” Pedersen said. “We need to find something that’s a relatively big-ticket item—a double or triple instead of a bunch of singles.”
Neither the Clarendon Hills or Hinsdale village boards approved placement of a merger-related, Bellock-supported referendum on the April 9 ballot this week. Officials from both villages had a negotiation session with FOP representatives Tuesday and hope to hold another session next month.
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There are plenty of ways to keep up on Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills news:
- Police Merger: Hinsdale Board Pulls Referendum After Clarendon Hills Vote
- Police Merger: Social Security Benefits 'Big Hurdle' in FOP Negotiations
- Police Merger: Patti Bellock Says Referendum Idea Came From Residents
- Police Merger: Clarendon Hills Board Says No to April Referendum
- Police Merger Would Eliminate 5 Positions, Save Villages Up to $800K, Officials Say