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  • Writer's pictureTricia Babischkin

Questions Asked, Limited Answers

Last night I had a few questions for the board. Of the 5 I shared, I got half answers to three of them -- so let's look at those:

  1. I asked about the successful season at RedTail. Specifically, I asked what was the board's plan to return the money that RedTail owed the village since during the three prior years RedTail was in the red and the only place the money could come from is the General Fund. I asked about course maintenance, specifically the greens, fairways, and range, because in speaking to other golf courses they are all talking about the wear and tear this season has taken on the course and the expense the repairs will be -- and in our case repairs on top of repairs that have needed to happen for a long time. And finally, I asked about tucking money away for a rainy day.

Phil's response had a tone that I didn't know what I was talking about. He spoke that he was speaking of profits, not revenue when he said the course had broken even in the last meeting. What he left out is that since our financials aren't out, we don't have clue if RedTail is actually profitable yet. Those of us who have run businesses, particularly those in the hospitality industry, know that changing the size of a beer or a hot dog isn't the secret to long term profitability. In the golf industry it is outings and while I trust the course management of RedTail is doing an AMAZING job, because I know they are professionals -- I also know that more needs to be done to attract members, outings and big events which is what really drives profits. You know what attracts those things? Well maintained courses. Yet, the word on the street is that Phil is prioritizing the cart path -- which is expensive to replace/repair because it is asphalt and the equipment needed will do the course damage. My question is has the management of RedTail decided that the path is the number one priority? Since Phil isn't a golfer and I've got serious doubts on his business sense, I think Phil needs to stay out of the management and running of RedTail.

2. I asked about the state of the police cars. All I asked is if the board knew how many cars were in service right now.

Phil's response was to extol the warranty replacements of two crankshafts and since they were repaired for free then that's all ok. He briefly mentioned the blown engine, but didn't answer if that car was back on the road or not. What he did not tell me was how many functional cars we had right now. He mentioned that he has a desire to 'go green' and would like the police to use Teslas -- though he glossed over that Tesla doesn't have a police package. Here's what I know to be fact, our department has and needs 4 cars. Yes, two officers are patrolling at a time; but when need 4. Some number of those cars have to be 4-wheel drive in order to handle the winter conditions we get and some of the hills. I also know that there are departments that have some Teslas, but it isn't their fleet -- so going all Tesla is likely not a viable option. I also know that the Dodge options have serious mechanical issues (proof with just how often the cars have been down) and I know that the best replacement vehicle is likely the Tahoe -- which is also one of the more expensive options -- but let's go with you get what you pay for. Finally, I know that repairs and breakdowns happen. I know that we need to have functional cars. What I don't know is why our police department was denied those functional cars. What I don't know is why he thinks it's ok because despite having half a fleet for a good portion of the summer; it's all ok because we got 'free' warranty work done. And I don't know how many cars are operational now.

3. I asked about the verbatim transcriptions of the minutes that our Village Clerk has been required to do lately. In my comment, I mentioned that her compensation had been cut and yet, now she's had this added, rather intense, additional duty.

Phil's response was to declare that her stipend for attending the meetings had been cut; but that she was transcribing the minutes during her time on an hour wage with her work in village hall. The problem I have here is two-fold: 1) Our Village Clerk had also had her days/hours cut so at one point she was just working the minimum of 1000 hours/year -- so, I'm accurate with the she's asked to do more with less time. (I'll note, she's had to increase her time again at Village Hall, because with all the departures and the focus on our local government her workload has certainly increased.) 2) The point of my question was actually that there are companies who do verbatim transcription for far less than our Clerk's hourly wage -- until the end of last week, this software had been denied our clerk. Phil did approve it after speaking to another resident -- but (and here's the troubling point) all software installs, including getting logins and such are done by our CAO -- who flatly refused to do that so far. This part of my question was ignored completely. Our Clerk needs to have the tools to do her job effectively. We need to have her focusing on the projects that bring the most benefit to the village -- transcribing meeting minutes when we can do it for less is not the best use of her time.

And one last thing -- Phil knows people are asking about his water meter. He tried to get ahead of the issue by speaking to in his opening comments. He said his meter is not malfunctioning which is why he's not gotten it replaced. The fact is he was sent 2 letters to get his meter replaced in 2019. His meter did not take any reading for the March bill in the past two Marches (he was charged the minimum), additionally, for every 2019 bill since March, Phil's meter had to have a 'corrected' reading -- which, I think means it wasn't reading right. But he also said that with new software we would be able to do average bills instead of minimum bills -- this is possible with our current software. Look, I'm not saying that anyone isn't paying their fair share of water usage in the village, including Phil. I'm saying exactly what I said in the meeting -- I expect the President of the Board to lead by example -- and his example with the water meter isn't a particularly good one.

My other questions went unanswered.

Five questions. Five opportunities for transparency and accountability. Two and a half non-answers and accusations of being a conspiracy theorist. This is our government in action.

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