Haymarket proposal was not realistic for Itasca

  • Jeff Pruyn

    Jeff Pruyn

 
By Jeff Pruyn
Guest columnist
Posted11/12/2021 1:00 AM

In 2019, the village of Itasca was asked to consider whether Haymarket's plan to operate in the village would be reasonable. To effectively and appropriately answer this question, our dedicated village staff and village board members got to work.

In contrast, state officials and our county board chairman came out in support of Haymarket's plan well before Haymarket submitted even a single piece of financial information, and the Daily Herald Editorial Board characterized the proposal as promising while urging our board and our community to give it a fair hearing. Two years later, on the morning of our board's planned vote on Nov. 2, the paper challenged the village's leadership -- encouraging the trustees to approve the facility.

 

I stated at the Nov. 2 Itasca Village Board meeting the proposal Haymarket submitted was unreasonable. This determination was not made in a vacuum, nor was it made without thoughtful consideration.

The board then proceeded to reject the proposal unanimously.

After countless hours of research and discussions, including more than 35 public hearings, there were still unanswered questions about how Itasca would be able to foot a bill which was yet unknown.

As we balance our budgets and provide services for our residents, we are constantly assessing how best to leverage and utilize our residents' tax dollars. These dollars are not infinite, yet the potential costs the village could have incurred with a project of this scope and size are immense.

Even should the Itasca Village Board have wanted to raise taxes to cover an unexpected cost, we do not have that authority. Itasca is tax-capped: We would first need to ask our residents to increase their taxes.

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I want to be clear: Drug treatment facilities are needed in and around DuPage County. Period. Every life lost to substance abuse and addiction is a tragedy.

As I quoted from the Nov. 13, 2019, Plan Commission meeting in my statements on Nov. 2, 2021, Haymarket was not willing to provide for the potential additional personnel or maintenance that would be necessary should we have accepted their offer of an ambulance.

As an accountant by profession, I account for money daily. This role informs my judgment as village president. Conservative estimates show that Haymarket would increase ambulance calls for service while, at the same time, revenues formerly generated by an active hotel would go away.

The Haymarket proposal and the numbers just did not add up. The Daily Herald Editorial Board can pontificate on leadership, but nobody has stepped forward with a real, enforceable solution to relieve the burden on our small town.

At the end of the day, the fiscal risk that would have been incurred by the village of Itasca was just too great. The request on Itasca was unreasonable.

• Jeff Pruyn is Itasca village president.

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