Maintaining Indian Head Park operations with fingers crossed
Frank Alonzo, Jr., works as both police chief and village administrator of Indian Head Park, each is a part-time position. | Kimberly Fornek—Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 24, 2012 6:25AM
INDIAN HEAD PARK — We sat down with Indian Head Park Village Administrator Frank Alonzo, Jr. to talk about issues facing the village. Indian Head Park voters on Nov. 6 defeated by a nearly 70 percent majority a referendum for a tax increase that would have cost homeowners about $41 more per $100,000 of their home’s market value. Last March, they rejected a choice of three proposals to increase taxes specifically for street repairs, the Police Department and/or general village services.
Q. What do those results mean for the village going forward?
A. We were hoping to have some money to do what needs to be done. There will be no big street repair projects in the near future. Hopefully, the infrastructure holds.
People are just upset with government. And you can’t get at Springfield, and you can’t get at Washington, so as a voter, you come in and attack your local government.
Q. What are the major issues facing Indian Head Park?
A. The finances. We’ll keep the status quo of our services going, but we’re hoping nothing drastic occurs such as a major water main break or a big snowstorm. To clear the snow from the (February 2011) blizzard, we hired outside contractors to plow snow. That cost $40,000. We had some of that refunded from FEMA, but with all the disasters FEMA has had to respond to, who knows if they would have the money for us again.
The Police Department is stretched. We have the police force to manage the crime we have, but we have no investigator to follow up on cases. We can pull an officer or two off the street to investigate (a crime), but then we have to pay overtime to the existing staff to cover their patrols, if we can’t get a part-time officer to come in. We hope we don’t get to the point where we just file the paperwork and that’s all we do.
We’re part of the regional South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force (which shares officers and resources, as they did for the Kelly O’Laughlin murder, but it’s reciprocal). We can be called upon at any time to assist (another community) with a man from our department.
Q: How would you describe the village’s fiscal situation?
A. Right now we are holding our own. Could it turn dire? Time will tell. We have no reserves.
Q. How is the state’s pension crisis affecting Indian Head Park?
A. We are in very good shape there. Village employees and the police officers belong to IMRF, which is not funded by the state. The village employees and police force pay into IMRF and Social Security (not a separately managed police pension fund).
Q. How does Indian Head Park keep its operations transparent?
A. The budget is on the village website, so are a list of the police calls. For some of the cases, I put up a narrative about what happened. The Village Board meetings are open. We don’t televise them because we don’t have the money for that.
Anyone has a question they can just call up. We’re small enough where they will get the police chief and their questions will be answered.