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Village, police: Traffic enforcement on 47th Street sufficient

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By Bridget Doyle TribLocal reporter Tuesday at 6:36 a.m.

Village Manager Robert Pilipszyn, second from the right, said village staff believes engineering solutions and public education workshops could be a less expensive alternative to hiring more police officers. (Bridget Doyle/TribLocal photo)

After receiving inquiries from residents about possible increased traffic enforcement along 47th Street, La Grange village and police officials outlined why adding patrol officers isn’t in the village’s current budget at Monday night’s board meeting.

Village Manager Robert Pilipszyn said engineering solutions and specific public education workshops could be a fruitful yet less-expensive alternative to hiring more police officers.

“We don’t believe that increasing resources for this specific purpose is the best thing nor the right answer at this particular time,” Pilipszyn said. “A lot of that is largely a function of being sensitive to village finances. We worked very hard to stabilize village finances by reducing personnel expenses, and that increasing funding for police services has a regressive impact on that objective. Let’s try to keep this budget at least for now.”

Lou Cipparrone, director of finance, highlighted that hiring an additional full-time police officer to aid in traffic enforcement would cost the village about $110,000 per year, while a part-time police officer would cost about $45,000 per year.

Cipparrone said the village’s current financial cost-containment plan focuses on reducing personnel costs while also maintaining village services.

“Although a deficit is still projected for the current year of about $300,000, annual surpluses are projected in three of the five next fiscal years primarily due to the cost containment plan, a gradual economic recovery and planned revenue enhancements currently in the budget,” Cipparrone said.

During the discussion of 47th Street, La Grange police chief Michael Holub outlined considerations to the board in light of possibly increasing traffic enforcement — touching on police resources and personnel as well as past traffic studies of 47th Street.

“Last year, we had a 16.6 percent decline in traffic accidents,” Holub said. “Our department spent 46 percent of our time on driver and traffic enforcement in 2010.”

Holub said 47th Street, along with Ogden Avenue and La Grange Road, is one of the top three areas of enforcement for the department’s 25 patrolling police officers — officers who also respond to on-duty calls that often disrupt regular traffic enforcement.

However, Holub said, information gathered from a pedestrian crosswalk sting, radar speed signs and specific traffic study data all leave him feeling comfortable with the current safety and level of enforcement on 47th Street.

“Ideally we would do much more enforcement at all locations,” Holub said. “But I think we’re doing a remarkable job and I’m impressed with the staff as call demands continue to go up and up that they’re able to raise the bar.”

Village President Elizabeth Asperger said the first draft of the 2011-12 budget would be posted online by Friday at the village’s website, villageoflagrange.com.

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Source: Trib Local - http://triblocal.com/la-grange-la-grange-park/2011/03/01/village-police-traffic-enforcement-on-47th-street-sufficient/
 

Cari Lyn Cook (Stevens)
(1978-2009)

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