Friday, June 17, 2011

Statement sent to the SouthtownStar regarding hiring needs

Statement on recent contracts adopted by the board of trustees

Jim Hickey, Board President

Questions have been raised about the decision to bring on a consultant to help us target waste and a lobbyist to protect the interests of the Orland Fire Protection District in Springfield.

Cynthia Katsenes has both the experience from serving on the OFPD board and knows the ins and outs of the system. She provides a critical eye to address the concerns raised by the voters and residents of the OFPD in the last election. This is a part of a major review of the OFPD to insure that it is maximizing its financial resources to produce the highest quality firefighting services possible. Again, this is what I believe the voters demanded and we plan to address the voter's concerns without any hesitation. We owe it to the taxpayers.

Her salary of $500 per week ($25 an hour) was determined based on a fair wage charged by other consultants; her fee comes out to be $25 an hour which is well below the typical consultants' rates which oftentimes exceed $75 and $100 an hour. She is an Orland District resident and we feel strongly about tapping our local resources and talents first.

Cheryl Axley's work for the OFPD will be to protect the interests of the OFPD in Springfield and in so doing will be constantly vigilant to identify any opportunities to benefit the OFPD including in terms of identifying grant funding sources to strengthen our Firefighting services. Her fee also reflects what we feel is below the typical fee charged by other lobbyists.

The change in the law firms will bring a difference and long term savings to the Orland Fire Protection District from our old firm, Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins and our new law firm Del Galdo Law Group. Although the Del Galdo hourly rates are slightly lower than the KTJ rates, producing a savings, the real savings comes in from the far lower rates for the people who actually do the legal administrative work and research. The senior partners at KTJ also charge a far higher rate than Del Galdo Law Group and we expect overall that there will be a significant savings in the long run.

More importantly, we wanted an independent legal firm representing the OFPD district that does not have the sometimes conflicting ties to local politics. They represent the Village of Orland Park and other political entities. It gives us a fresh perspective on how to deal with issues that confront the OFPD.

Overall, I also want to say that while these savings may seem incremental at first, the fact is that we have engaged in an overview of spending and the total savings to the taxpayers will be significant in a cumulative way including other savings that we have initiated in personnel, communications and PR, etc. So while someone might single out one example to compare contracts, the real perspective would be to look at the bigger picture of overall savings that the cumulative impact of all the actions will bring.

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