Quick News: Trustee Rogers Appointed Mayor Pro Tem, Gary Woll Street Naming, Water Shut Off Confusion

Monday, May 19, 2014 || By Michael Romain

Trustee Michael Rogers appointed Mayor Pro Tem in Mayor Perkins’s absence

Trustee Michael Rogers
Trustee Michael Rogers (center left) presided over the May 14, LLOC meeting in Mayor Perkins’s absence (Photo by Michael Romain for The Village Free Press).

MAYWOOD — At a May 14, Legal, License and Ordinance Committee (LLOC) meeting, Trustee Michael Rogers was chosen by Mayor Edwenna Perkins, who has been under the weather, to preside over the meeting in her absence. The Board voted unanimously for Trustee Rogers to be named Mayor Pro Tem. Toward the end of that night’s meeting, Rogers, who also served on the Board in nearby Bellwood, commended Mayor Perkins on what he considered a rare attribute in heads of local governments.

“This is the first meeting I can remember the Mayor missing in a year–that’s unusual,” he said. “I think it is good to be able to do that–that’s really hard.”

Former trustee and Village clerk Gary Woll to get a street in his name

Gary Woll
Gary Woll.

Former longtime trustee and Village clerk Gary Woll will have a street named in his honor. A 5-0 vote of the Traffic and Safety Commission at the required public hearing on Thursday, May 1, 2014, was sufficient for the designation.About 20 supporters were in the audience. The honorary street runs from 3rd to Chicago going north past Mr. Woll’s home for 3 blocks. Information on the installation and ceremony is forthcoming.

Confusion reigns amid Board discussion of water shut off procedures

MAYWOOD — At the May 14, LLOC meeting, the Board discussed the Village’s water shut off procedures. The item was placed on the agenda at the request of Mayor Perkins. According to a Village memo, “Mayor Perkins wanted to discuss water shut off procedures with the Village Board. She wanted  the Village Board to establish a dollar amount of when water should be shut off if the resident’s bill has not been paid.”

Several trustees construed this as a case of mayoral overreach and were confused why Mayor Perkins wanted it on the agenda in the first place.

“Matters like this would usually go before the finance committee,” Trustee Audrey Jaycox said, referencing the fact that currently the Village is without such a committee. “If she wants to put this on the agenda, she needs to tell us why she wants to talk about it and what discussion she wants to have…the finance committee already put a dollar amount on shut offs.”

Trustee Ron Rivers and Cheryl Ealey-Cross were in agreement with Jaycox, with both stating that the Village already had procedures in place to deal with shut offs.

“We have to resort back to the procedure of residents, entities, going through the water commission, consulting with the Village manager, not going through the Mayor’s office,” he said. “Do not call the Mayor’s office asking for a rectification or reconsideration of your water bill…you cannot circumvent the process by calling the Mayor. That office doesn’t have that authority…There is a procedure, stop calling the Mayor’s office asking for those things to be done helter skelter, willy nilly.”

Trustee Ealey-Cross, who once served as chairwoman of the Water Review Commission, concurred that procedures are already in place to deal with shut offs and other water issues.

“My concerns are the same of what I’ve heard tonight. We have to be fair [to the Village and to those who’ve been overcharged],” she said, noting that information about the current procedures of the water review commission would have been helpful to have received before the discussion took place.

“All we got was a memo,” she said.

However, when asked why she requested that the item regarding shut offs be placed on the agenda, Mayor Perkins said that the procedure itself was the reason why residents were approaching her in the first place.

“When people come to me about their water problems, I tell them to go to [the Village manager],” she said.

She said that residents had been approaching her with complaints about their water shutting off on a Friday, which meant that even if they paid immediately after shut off, their water wouldn’t be cut back on until Monday. The entire weekend they would be without water.

The Mayor said another complaint from residents was that they were being misled about the cost of shut offs by the Village itself. According to the Village’s website, “A charge of $50.00 will be made for turning the water on again where the same has been turned off because of non-payment.”

But when I called a representative from the Finance Department, which is responsible for collecting water bill payments, she said that the fee was actually $300.00–$250.00 more than what the website specified. The representative said that the amount listed on the website could be outdated (which is unusual, considering that the Village upgraded its website less than a year ago).

If these specific issues raised by the Mayor were actually placed on the memo the Board received prior to the May 14, LLOC meeting, perhaps the discussion would’ve gone differently. However, far from trying to micromanage the particular water cases of certain outraged residents, it seems that the Mayor placed the item on the agenda due to residents’ complaints about the Village’s water shut off policy itself. While the problem regarding the website seems to be a quick fix, the deeper question is how, and whether, to deal with the issue of Friday cut offs. VFP

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