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Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and the board of trustees feel shortchanged with COVID relief money. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau and the board of trustees feel shortchanged with COVID relief money. (Photo by Jeff Vorva)

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Orland Park says village shortchanged by feds in rescue plan allocation

By Jeff Vorva

Orland Park village trustees and Mayor Keith Pekau are now taking issue with the federal government.

After months of taking umbrage with county and state government bodies for various reasons, Pekau and Co. are fed up with the Feds for being allocated $5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act when similar sized towns are getting more.

At Monday’s board meeting, held at the Orland Park Police Department due to a power outage at Village Hall, the board unanimously passed a resolution requesting that the village be treated like other non-Community Development Block Grant cities with a population of under 50,000 and asking for $2.8 million from the state.

Pekau said the village has approximately 58,000 residents and the resolution says that the Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program “treats cities and villages that have a population of over 50,000 and are not CDGB-entitled cities different than Non-Entitlement Units with a population below 50,000.

There are 13 whereas statements and four additional sections in the resolution but the bottom line is that the board thinks Orland Park and other south suburban cities are getting a raw deal.

“This is absurd,” Trustee Michael Milani said. “I’m uncertain how this imbalance of funds works, and it doesn’t make sense.”

Trustee William Healy said Orland Park has been robbed by Cook County, oppressed by the state of Illinois and is now at the “bottom of the barrel” by the federal government.

“We are law-abiding decent people here and I don’t know why we are shorted time and time again,” he said.

Pekau crunched some numbers to try to prove the village is getting crunched.

“To put this in perspective, Oak Park with 52,000 residents and a higher median household income received $39 million. Evanston, the home of the very affluent Northwestern (University) received over $43 million.

“To be clear, Congress has put a value on the worth of our citizens. Congress has placed that value of the average citizen of the United States as $135.94. They also say that Orland Park residents are worth only $86.59 each or 36.5 percent less than the average citizen in the United States. They put a dollar value on it. That’s how much we’re worth.”

Pekau charged that the village’s congressional representatives, Bobby Rush and Marie Newman, have not prioritized the village or neighboring villages.

“They made sure that Chicago received over $1 billion by voting for this horrible bill,” he said. “They think the residents of Chicago are eight times more valuable than Orland Park residents. More than six times more valuable than Tinley Park residents. And five times more valuable than Oak Lawn and other south suburban residents.

“This is yet another slap in the face to the south and southwest suburbs – this time by the federal government and our congressional representatives.”

The village plans on using its money on parks and infrastructure and in the grand scheme of things, the village will not suffer much of a hardship despite all of this.

“Orland Park is well run so we’ll survive,” Pekau said. “But we think it is only fair that the state appropriate approximately $21 million of the billions of dollars of funding given to Illinois to fully fund Orland Park as well as the other 10 communities that were short per capita.”

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