Lyons Finance Director Dan Denys has stepped down. (File photo)

Lyons Finance Director Dan Denys has stepped down. (File photo)

Lyons approves budget, hears update on quarry fill

By Steve Metsch

The Lyons Village Board approved a $12 million budget for the coming year, but it wasn’t without some concern.

Specifically, it’s about water that’s being lost in the village’s supply system.

“After all the money we’ve spent on the water system, not only are we not realizing improvements in our water efficiency, it’s going the wrong way,” Finance Director Dan Denys told trustees at the Dec. 7 finance committee meeting.

Leaks are costing the village $367,000 a year.

“The bad news is we have that loss,” Denys said. “The good news is we have the surplus in the general fund so the net of those two will not cause us financial problems.”

“We have actual data for 10 months. And we took a look at what we think is going to happen in the last two months,” Denys said.

“We are projecting a $566,000 surplus for this period. The majority of that surplus manifests itself in two ways,” Denys said.

One part of the surplus is a “dramatic” increase in state income and sales taxes, Denys said.

Another is the police department, which has increased the amount of money brought in through fines and tickets, he said.

Mayor Christopher Getty said the village departments “started to hunker down” because “we didn’t know what was going to happen” during the pandemic.

Focusing on the water leaks, Denys said “the frustrating thing with all the changes we made, we thought we’d see some progress. Going backwards is demoralizing.”

“We made it through all of that in 2020. In 2021, the only thing that been a real challenge is the water. Essentially, our water loss climbed, and so we have been very aggressive about tackling leaks.

The village has found 42 leaks, Getty said.

“The vast majority of those, if not all of them, were private leaks, on service lines from the village main to a private residence or business,” Getty said.

“All of those have been corrected with the exception of one,” Getty said. “We’re still doing checks. The more we bring water loss down, the more it’s a relief on our budget and expenditures.”

Denys called it “a confounding problem,” noting the village even found an open drain in the reservoir.

“Water was literally going down the drain. We fixed that. For every gallon we sell, we have to buy 1 and one-half gallons. It isn’t because we haven’t tried,” Denys said.

“We have an old, aging infrastructure. We’re not unique. Brookfield, for example, has a 100-year plan to fix their problem. We’ve made major improvements,” Denys added.

In other business, the finance committee heard a report from Marty Burke, of Mackie Consulting, regarding an update on the project to fill in the quarry bordered by Plainfield Road, First Avenue and Ogden Avenue.

The grading is being worked on and is designed to collect water into the property “not to discharge off,” Burke said.

Reclamation of the quarry began 16 years ago.

“It’s been a long journey and it’s almost finished,” Burke told village officials.

Burke noted that “stockpiles” of dirt and fill can be seen near the fences around the quarry.

The plan is that as the fill settles, with weight from the stockpiles, that process will be accelerated, with the idea that potential development can begin sooner than later.

Trustee Dan Hilker asked Burke if the piles are located in strategic areas. Burke said they have been moved around “because we want to accelerate the consolidation” of the fill.

During the village board meeting, trustees approved purchasing three 2022 Ford police interceptor vehicles from Currie Commercial Center in Frankfort for an amount to not exceed $104,523.

Trustees also approved an ordinance prohibiting truancy. The village never had one in place, Police Chief Thomas Herion said.

“We were having circumstances where parents were supporting their children not coming to school. This gives us a tool to enforce parents to encourage their children to come to school,” he said.

Lyons School District 103 supports the plan, Herion said.

Trustees approved a variance from the minimum lot width for the property at 7905 W. 45th St. Owned by the village, this will, hopefully, make it easier to sell the property, Getty said.

The board approved an ordinance regulating possession of controlled substances.

Herion said the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is seeking help keeping cases with small amounts of drugs out of the “overwhelmed” court system.

“Possession of cocaine, possession of heroin, things of that nature. We now have the ability to charge them on a local ordinance, a minimum of a $350 fine to a $750 fine,” Herion said.

If a person is a habitual drug user or is found to possess a larger amount of drugs, they will be charged with a felony and be prosecuted, he said.

“This is a great tool for us,” Herion said. “Hopefully, we can change their path in life instead of giving them a criminal history.”

Trustees approved to use the current meeting schedule of the first and third Tuesdays of each month in the coming year. The board’s finance committee will meet at 6 p.m. with the full board meeting at 7 p.m.

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