A question of whether or not to hire three new police officers sparked a lengthy discussion at the Worth Village Board meeting on Tuesday night.
Although it was not an agenda item, Mayor Mary Werner opened the discussion during a report from the Public Safety committee, chaired by Trustee Warren Soldan.
“We have three candidates who will be eligible to enter the Police Academy in October, but the final hiring must be approved by the board,” she said.
Trustee Pete Kats questioned whether the budget would support the hiring.
“I thought from earlier discussions that we were waiting for the state budget to be finalized and that hasn’t happened yet,” said Kats. “I don’t want us to hire someone and then have to lay them off if we don’t receive the $500,000 the state owes us. I don’t want to go down that road.”
Werner stated that the village has been behind the eight ball for several years in having enough officers on the street.
“I have not heard anything from the Mayor’s Caucus or the Illinois Municipal League indicating that we would not receive our funding from the state,” she said.
Kats responded that it is a crap shoot right now with the state. “We don’t know what is happening with the budget. I would rather err on the side of caution. Can’t we wait on this?”
Police Chief Mark Micetich replied that it was a premium time to send the three candidates to the academy in order to ensure that the department will have the personnel needed to fill the necessary positions.
Village Finance Director Dwayne Fox stated that the hiring of the officers would offset the increasing cost of overtime for the village. He added that the new hiring is part of the village mandate for public safety.
Werner asked Kats if he could be comfortable in trusting the police chief and the finance director in their recommendation to move forward with the hiring. Kats said he would step out in faith for both the chief, who he said runs a good department, and the finance director.
The discussion ended with an approval from the board for the hiring of the three candidates who will begin training at the academy in October.
In other business, a business license was approved for Risk Advertising dba Rizk Ad Inc., located at 11410 S. Harlem Ave.
Also approved was an ordinance for a special use to operate an Automobile Laundry at 6445 W. 111th St., and an ordinance granting a variance to reduce the required number of vehicle parking spaces at the Automobile Laundry.
Two town hall meeting dates were announced. On Thursday, Sept. 24, there will be a presentation at the Village Hall by Medical Cannabis, a business opening at 114th Street and Harlem Avenue. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, a town hall meeting will be held at the Village Hall for public input on a Transit Oriented Development project funded by a $75,000 grant from the Regional Transportation Association (RTA). Farr Associates, hired as consultants for the project, will be present to answer questions.