Life Amplified

Trustee Talk

In this series, elected officials from the Tinley Park Village Board discuss issues related to the activities of the committees they chair.

Trustee Talk
Diane M. Galante, Finance Committee Chairperson
Issued: Dec. 23, 2020

Trustee Diane GalanteBefore I start, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday. It’s been said time and time again, but it bears repeating: It’s been a tough year filled with countless challenges. I think everyone deserves to enjoy a little holiday fun!

As your elected official, it’s my honor to help maintain the Village’s long history of good financial stewardship. To that end, I’m pleased to report that the Village Board recently approved several tax levy abatements that will ultimately save residents hundreds of dollars on their average property tax bills. The Village’s required 2020 levies to pay outstanding bonds and interest payments due in the upcoming calendar year are being reduced by nearly $1.9 million, which directly translates into reduced property taxes. The total amounts abated represent 68.7% of the total debt service of the Village and Tinley Park Public Library combined.

At the same meeting, the board also adopted a property tax levy request for Tax Year 2020 in the amount of $28,143,499 million, a 2.08% increase over the previous year's requested tax levy dollars. Knowing how difficult this year has been on many families, the Village worked hard to keep the overall levy increase to less than 5% of the prior year’s extended levy.

Allocating certain revenues each year to pay our bonds helps keep property taxes lower and is preferable to raising taxes and then giving a rebate, as some other communities do. That money should stay with our residents from the get-go. An added bonus is the fact the administrative costs associated with issuing rebates is virtually nonexistent with our method.

Over the past 10 years, the annual average residential tax savings generated by abatements on homes with a market value between $150,000 and $350,000 is between $157 and $366. During this same period, homeowners have received and benefited from cumulative savings of between $1,570 and $3,663 on the Village portion of their tax bill because of the abatements, which have totaled more than $43.3 million for the past 10 years.

Due to the reduction of the required tax levy for debt, the Village’s tax levy is $1.9 million lower than if abatements were not approved, reducing the Village tax rate by an estimated $0.119 per $100 of Equalized Assessed Value, and by an estimated $0.011 to the library rate.

In all that we do, our prime mission is to manage our Village finances in a way that keeps taxes as low as possible while still giving residents the excellent quality of life they deserve. In financially difficult times, that charge is even more important than ever.

Trustee Talk
Michael W. Glotz, Public Works Committee Chairperson
Issued: Dec. 11, 2020

Mike GlotzHere in Tinley Park, we’re always looking for ways to make our streets better. As such, I’m happy to report that the Village Board recently approved an agreement with Will County to make improvements to 80th Avenue from 191st to 183rd streets and transfer control of the road in that area to the Village once work is complete.

Included in the agreement are plans to widen the road and install additional turn lanes and street lighting. We’ll also modernize existing traffic signals and install new ones, update the landscaping and sidewalks, and install a multi-use path and water main. Reconstruction of the structure over the Union Drainage ditch and I-80 is also part of the plan.

As I mentioned earlier, the agreement lays out a plan for Will County to transfer jurisdiction of 80th Avenue to the Village after construction is done. While Will County will retain ownership of the intersection, this jurisdictional transfer will allow the Village to control the roadway for future improvements, as well as for things such as snow plowing and salting.

Some of the costs of these improvements will be shared by Will County and the Village. The current estimated costs for the shared improvements are $7.3 million, with the Village responsible for the costs in excess of $5.6 million.

Will County will go out to bid in March, with a tentative construction start time in the summer. If all goes as planned, work will be complete by the summer of 2023. As always, I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the project at future Village Board meetings and columns.

Until next time, have a very happy holiday and a prosperous new year!

Trustee Talk

Cynthia A. Berg, Marketing Committee Chairperson
Issued: Oct. 1, 2020

Trustee Cynthia A. BergPutting on fun events in the middle of a pandemic can be a bit tricky to pull off. In fact, many other communities have suspended or outright cancelled events this year due to COVID-19. Luckily for Tinley Park, we’ve been able to reimagine some of our existing events to be more socially distant and create a few brand-new events that let residents participate on their own.

These new or reimagined events have been pretty popular so far this year. More than a thousand people came out to the two Music in the Plaza events the Village hosted this summer in Zabrocki Plaza, and we received more than 100 entries in our Benches on the Avenue Scavenger Hunt contest. The Cruise Night Parades that drove through various Tinley Park neighborhoods this summer were also a huge hit, with many residents commenting on how cool it was to see classic cars without ever having to leave their front lawns! Our Marketing Department continues to work diligently on ways to bring the fun to Tinley Park without compromising residents’ safety.

We’re going to keep the fun coming in October with our Halloween House Decorating Contest, which is going on now through Oct. 16 and asks folks to make their houses as spooky as possible for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the Tinley Park business of their choice. Also, trick-or-treating this year will be from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, with recommendations in place to keep everyone safe and socially distant.

The new version of the Downtown Tinley Boo Bash, coming Sunday, Oct. 25, will conform to Phase 4 guidelines and provide all kinds of frightening fun. The re-imagined and completely free Boo Bash will take place at noon in Zabrocki Plaza, with safely sized groups of people walking through the event to participate in fun activities like crafts, costumes, trick-or-treating and more. Tickets will be available online Oct. 12, so stay tuned!

The Marketing Department is also in the early planning stages for this year’s slate of holiday events, which will be designed to be both fun and safe for all participants. COVID can’t keep us down!

On another note, we recently merged the former Community Resources and Marketing and Branding commissions into the new Marketing Commission. This new commission will work to support Tinley Park activities and events, the Village’s tourism initiatives and brand, and the Village’s community involvement and engagement strategies. I’m excited to get to work with this new commission and will keep you updated on all the great ideas it’s sure to produce.

Until we speak again, have a very Happy Halloween and stay safe!

Trustee Talk
William P. Brady, Administration and Legal Committee Chairperson
Issued: Sept. 25, 2020

Trustee Bill BradyHere in Tinley Park, we have a great group of gifted, hard-working employees who use their combined talents for the betterment of the Village and its residents.
I’m pleased to announce a new member of the Tinley Park family, Angela Arrigo, a Tinley Park resident who started this past Monday as our Human Resources Director. Angela comes to us after serving most recently as the Assistant Human Resources Director for Orland Park.
We received 40 applications from many excellent candidates, and this was narrowed down to eight people for first-round interviews. Staff from the Manager’s Office and Finance Department conducted these meetings, and I joined them for the second round after the field was narrowed down to four candidates. While all the candidates I saw were excellent, I couldn’t help but agree with staff that Angela was the best candidate for the position.
Angela has more than 20 years of professional-level experience in various human resources roles, fostering organizational strategic objectives and driving operational HR efficiencies. She has proven experience in improving efficiencies in the HR delivery of services, and places high emphasis on providing employees with the tools they need to succeed.
Angela has a Bachelor of Science degree in commerce and human resources management from DePaul University. She’s also a Society of Human Resources Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and has Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certifications. She also has Six Sigma Green Belt certification from Northern Illinois University.
I’d also like to congratulate our new police officer Cody Marciano, who will start with us Oct 5. Officer Marciano is already a full-time patrol officer elsewhere, so he won’t need to go to the police academy, and instead will start with our Field Training officers. He served the Village as an auxiliary officer from 2014 to 2019.
Yet even as we say hello to new employees, we also say goodbye to two others who have served Tinley Park admirably for years. This week marks the retirement of Community Development Department office coordinator Jean Bruno, who has been with us since 1997, and building inspector Gene Lode, an employee since 2003, will retire this Wednesday. Many thanks to both of them for their hard work and dedication to Tinley Park over the years. We wish you well in your future endeavors!

Trustee Talk
Michael G. Mueller, Community Development Committee Chairperson
Issued: Sept. 18, 2020

Mueller ResizedThere are several new and exciting developments in the works that point to brighter economic skies ahead for the Village of Tinley Park. Among these is the Brixmor redevelopment of the Tinley Park Plaza shopping center on the east side of Harlem Avenue, just south of 159th Street. Once complete, this plaza will be a great boon for Tinley Park and a catalyst for economic growth in the area surrounding it.

Brixmor’s ambitious, phased renovation plan will cost about $22 million and includes demolition of approximately 87,000 square feet of the in-line center and construction of new retail spaces to accommodate the retailers under contract, as well as others yet to be determined. Future renovations will include the creation of new tenant spaces, improvements to the north end of the in-line center, and separating the current in-line center into two buildings for better access to loading docks and service entrances essential for deliveries.

As our northern “front door,” this area is the first thing many people see when driving into town, so its vitality is very important to the well-being of the Village as a whole because its health – good or poor – ultimately reflects on the rest of the town. In addition to the shopping center, Pete’s Fresh Market has plans for the old Kmart across the street, and together these areas could be a strong catalyst for redevelopment that the 159th Street/Harlem Avenue corridor needs.

When you combine the draw of the current tenants with the enhanced retail spaces that Brixmor will bring, you get a synergy that should help draw other retailers to the center, reducing vacancy levels and increasing customer traffic. It’s a win-win for the developer, the retail establishments and the Village of Tinley Park as a whole.

As part of a redevelopment agreement the Village Board recently approved with Brixmor, the Village will offer financial assistance in an amount not to exceed $9.9 million, or 50% of the actual project costs, whichever is lower. Specifically, this financial assistance will come from a combination of TIF incremental revenues from the shopping center properties alone, and incremental municipal sales taxes (1%) from all the businesses located in the shopping center over a 10-year period. A maximum of $8.1 million of TIF-eligible costs are to be paid from the TIF increment generated, with the remainder (as much as $1.8 million) to be paid from incremental sales taxes.

Village assistance is vital, as renovations wouldn’t be possible without the strong partnership between the Village and the developers. Like many other areas in town, the 159th Street/Harlem Avenue corridor has been hit hard by the recent pandemic. That, combined with the higher taxes for businesses from Cook County, makes financial recovery much more difficult. With assistance and proper redevelopment, this area has the potential to become a prime destination for customers and give a much-needed boost to our local economy.

A ton of hard work goes into setting up projects like this, and I’d like to give a big thanks to the staff of our Community Development and Finance departments, who worked tirelessly to make this project happen.