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Flossmoor hires government relations firm in hopes of bringing in more federal funds

Flossmoor is spending money in hopes of finding more federal money for local projects.

The village board voted unanimously on Tuesday, Jan. 18, to approve a year-long agreement with Smith Dawson and Andrews and a budget amendment of $20,000 to cover its services through the end of fiscal year 2022.

The hope is that the Washington, D.C.-based government affairs company can secure more funding through federal agencies and congressional set-asides, according to a report from Village Manager Bridget Wachtel. Other south suburban municipalities — including Matteson, Park Forest and Richton Park — have worked with the company, and in at least one case have seen $8 to $13 come back to their community for every $1 spent with SDA, according to Mayor Michelle Nelson, who added she is excited about the results the firm gets in the area. She said she also likes the relationships SDA has with local representatives and senators.

“There’s an emphasis at a federal level on water projects — getting rid of lead lines and improving water mains and sewers,” Nelson said. “The village definitely has a need for those items. Getting those funded at a federal level would help free up some money for some other capital projects we have here in the village.”

Wachtel noted in her report there is some risk to investing in the firm but that its ability to help secure competitive grants and future set-asides for capital projects was worth consideration. The firm is to help the village with congressional and federal agency meetings, as well as work toward advancing appropriation requests at the federal level.

Trustees had a few questions but all voiced their support for the agreement. Trustee Gary Daggett added that he appreciates the diversity of the group working at SDA and knows Flossmoor can use the firm’s help in getting more support.

“I know this is how the game is played to get federal money, and I appreciate the experience that they have,” Daggett said. “If it can help us accomplish some of the things we have to do with infrastructure in other areas of the village, I’m all for it.”

SDA’s proposed rate is a fixed monthly fee of $5,000, or $60,000 annually, though the agreement was still pending village attorney review as of the meeting.

Other business:
● The village board voted unanimously to approve its consent agenda, which included an amendment to its Street Rehabilitation Program Design Engineering Contract with Milhouse Engineering to pay the company an additional $130,000 to account for an expanded scope of work for the project for a total of $300,000. The village last June approved a $170,000 contract with Milhouse Engineering based on an estimated construction cost of $1.7 million for the first phase of the program. But a report from Public Works Director John Brunke noted the program has been revised to be completed in one year, instead of two, at an estimated construction cost of $4.25 million.
● Nelson appointed Maya Bordeaux to the village’s Police Pension Board. Bordeaux has a law degree and an MBA, works as a human resources executive, and has more than 20 years of experience in managing pension plans, according to Nelson. The board voted unanimously to confirm the appointment.

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