Business was conducted as usual at the Hickory Hills City Council meeting last Thursday until near the end of the session when it was revealed that Public Works Director Larry Boettcher was retiring after 25 years of service to the village.
Boettcher, who routinely reports at every council meeting, caught council members by surprise when he started his report by saying, “Tonight, with a heavy heart, I must announce that I will be retiring on July 20 after 25 years of service as director of Public Works. On that date, I will begin the pursuit of the fantasies of retirement.”
He added that it was a pleasure working for a city that allowed the Public Works Department to pursue and advance many projects that brought improvements to the city.
Upon completion of his report, he was honored with a lengthy standing ovation.
Mayor Mike Howley responded with many compliments stating that under Boettcher’s leadership the department had made dramatic strides in improving its operations.
“It has been a wonderful privilege having you heading our department,” he said.
In a later conversation, Howley said there will be a discussion on plans to honor Boettcher at the July council meeting.
“I will speak with him about that to see if he is in agreement,” Howley said. “Traditionally, for some reason, our public works staff shy away from public acknowledgements, but we will see what we can do as he is going to really be missed.”
In other business, two ordinances were approved regarding water rates and sanitary sewer rates. In compliance with rate increases from Cook County, minimum charge water rates for residents will be $97.80 per quarterly billing. Commercial users minimal charge will be $40.75 per monthly billing. Rate increases became effective June 1.
According to the water rate ordinance, any single-family residential user who qualifies as a senior citizen will not be subject to the minimum billing amount and minimum charge.
Wastewater service charges for residential, commercial and industrial users will be a basic charge of $4.20 per month, plus $1.50 per thousand gallons or fraction thereof.
Other action included a brief public hearing conducted by city attorney Vince Cainkar regarding a change to the Hickory Hills Zoning Ordinance. Cainkar was seeking approval to update the zoning ordinance to include requirements for drive-through facilities and windows.
Cainkar said that when the original ordinance was approved many years ago, drive-through facilities and windows did not exist in businesses in the city.
“We need to add regulations and guidance for these facilities as they will continue to increase,” he said.
Ald. Brian Waight (1st) asked if the new ordinance would affect the proposed plans for a Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through on the property located just east of the City Hall.
“What is already in won’t be affected, but in the future some things could be changed, if the city decided it was necessary,” Cainkar replied.
The proposed ordinance was approved unanimously.
“This will help us with the safety of our residents and future development,” Howley said.
On another matter, Police Sergeant Glenn Tienstra, who was sitting in for Chief Al Vodicka at the meeting, issued an alert to residents that there has been a recent increase in car burglaries in the city.
“Residents need to be sure their cars are locked at all times, whether in the driveway or on the street,” he said
He also added that cars should be locked at gas stations when the driver enters the station. Don’t leave them unattended or unlocked. It just takes a second for someone to steal your belongings.”
He also warned residents about scamming phone calls saying that they are from the IRS.
“This is also an increasing event. A scammer calls and tells the victim they owe the IRS money and they will be arrested if they don’t pay. They then tell the victim to purchase a $500 gift card from a large store such as Target or Best Buy and to give the caller the ID number,” he said.
Tienstra urged any resident who received such a call to ignore the instructions but to try and get the name or number and report it immediately to the police department.
“We work with the FBI to try to trace these calls, so please call us,” he said. He also added that the IRS does not ever call people. “That is how you can know it is a scam.”