Police Chief Dan Vittorio holds up the badge as officer Robert Carroll has Thor, the department's new canine officer, on a leash during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on November 22. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Police Chief Dan Vittorio holds up the badge as officer Robert Carroll has Thor, the department's new canine officer, on a leash during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on November 22. (Photo by Joe Boyle)

Oak Lawn officials say pension relief will not hinder homeowners

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By Joe Boyle

Oak Lawn Village Manager Tom Phelan said the finances of homeowners need to be addressed while paying off pension deficits.

Phelan said during the Oak Lawn Village Board meeting on November 22 that making budget adjustments for next year has to keep residents in mind due to rising inflation.

“We may be going into a recession next year,” Phelan said. “I don’t know for how long. Unlike a corporation and the Elon Musks of the world who can afford to pay out millions, we can’t do that.”

Phelan said at the request of trustees, they will do their best to pay off pension deficits in the coming year. The village manager and trustees would like to see at least $1 million entered into pension funds, and perhaps as much as $2 million.

The average net income of Oak Lawn homeowners is about $60,000, Phelan said. He added that it just makes sense to provide funding for pensions while keeping overall costs down for homeowners.

Without any budget adjustments, Phelan said that homeowners’ property taxes would be raised nearly 20% percent. The village manager said that it would be too heavy a burden for residents living with their own personal tight budgets.

Phelan added that this is not the time to point fingers at one particular political party in regards to inflation and pension deficits. All Illinois legislators have been guilty of avoiding the problem for many years, Phelan said.

“Both sides of the aisle allowed this to happen,” Phelan said. “They kicked the can down the road. This is a problem that everyone owns.”

While acknowledging that some dark days may be ahead, Phelan is thankful for the hard work of the police, fire and public works departments in the village.

Mayor Terry Vorderer agreed that the village departments have provided outstanding work over the years he has been involved in public service.

Thor receives police badge

Oak Lawn Police Chief Dan Vittorio led the badge presentation for the department’s new dog, Thor. On hand for the presentation was Officer Robert Carroll, who has trained the dog.

Vittorio, Carroll and Thor then posed for photos. Vittorio held up the badge. Carroll said that while Thor has a great disposition, he is all business when it comes to tracking down criminals and detecting narcotics.

“It was a like a dream come true,” Carroll said. “I’m very excited to do this. He is one of the best dogs we ever had.”

Thor, who is 75% percent German shepherd and 25% Alaskan Malamute, was raised on an Indiana farm. He will turn 2 years old on Jan. 11, Carroll said. He added that Thor is very friendly and likes to be around people.

Vorderer believes the dog will be a great addition to the police department.

“It doesn’t surprise me that Thor is the one of the best because he is joining the best police force.”

During the consent agenda segment, the board approved the appointment of David McCarthy to the Appeals and Review Board and Bill Egan to the Fire and Police Commission.

The board also approved a resolution for the purchase of a Ford F-250 truck with plow for the village from Hawk Ford of Oak Lawn. A resolution was also approved for the purchase of a snow fighter truck and plow for the village from Rush Truck Centers.

The purchase of new body worn cameras, tasers, and squad cameras for the village from Axon Enterprises was also approved by the board.

Vorderer did not have a problem with the new additions to the police department, but wanted to make one observation.

“In regards to the body cameras, I just want to point out that a $1.2 million contract was forced upon us by the state without providing any funding.”

Santa on the Green

Trustee Paul Mallo (3rd) reminded residents that Santa on the Green will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, at the Village Green. Santa and Mrs. Claus will greet youngsters and parents at the gazebo located in the Village Green, which is adjacent to the Oak Lawn Library.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Vorderer said that despite some economic concerns everyone should have a great holiday.

“I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving,” Vorderer said. “Despite all the problems we have out there, we have a lot to be thankful for.”

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