Homewood trustees approved a new contract with Maren Ronan Ltd for lobbying services at the July 11 board meeting.
The village’s previous contract with the firm expired at the end of 2022, and Ronan had been providing month-to-month service since then, according to a memo from Homewood Village Manager Napoleon Haney.
The village has worked with the Ronan family for years. Prior to contracting with Maren Ronan, the village worked with her father, Alfred Ronan, who died in January.
The rate will remain the same as it was last year at $3,000 per month. Haney said the fee has not increased since 2011. The cost of the contract was included in the current village budget.
In response to a question posted by a resident on Facebook, Trustee Anne Colton explained why the village uses a lobbyist.
“There are a lot of bills in Springfield that have a direct impact on municipalities, and often in negative ways,” she said in a Facebook comment. “They can become unfunded mandates, where they require us to do a thing that doesn’t benefit our community, but they don’t provide the funding, forcing us to cut programs that our residents do benefit from.”
She noted that lobbying firms often work for multiple municipalities, allowing the cost to be shared.
Haney, in a memo to the board, cited a couple of specific examples where lobbying had benefited the village, including the “legislation that dissolved the Chicago South Suburban Mass Transit District, which allows us to take ownership of the commuter parking lots,” and “passing legislation that allowed Homewood to impose a local motor fuel tax.”
He also noted that Ronan is helping the village access $2 million of state-appropriation funding that has been awarded to Homewood in state appropriations bills.
The board also witnessed David Nelson take the oath of office as a Homewood police officer.
He started work July 10. Because Nelson is an experienced police officer, he was not required to take police academy training and went immediately into the HPD field training program, according to Police Chief Denise McGrath.
Nelson holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Loyola University and is also a graduate of Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. He was previously employed by the Hazel Crest Police Department and the Crete Police Department.
In other business, the board approved:
- A budget amendment for emergency repairs to the tank of the water tower behind village hall. Competitive bidding was waived for the $28,400 contract due to emergency nature of the repairs. The tank began leaking on June 13 and was repaired and returned to service June 22.
- Purchase of two replacement vehicles, a pickup truck to serve as a parking lot snow plow for the Public Works Department at $72,000 including snow plow equipment and a vehicle for the Police Department at $51,000 including additional equipment. Both purchases will be made with federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act.
- Dispose of surplus property, including a donation of nine unclaimed bicycles to Restoration Ministries in Harvey and the sale of 20 chairs to South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force for $1.
- An updated agreement with the South Suburban Emergency Response Team. Homewood has been a member of the mutual aid emergency response team since 1991.