On January 12, 2016 Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the Village of Morton Grove’s general obligation (GO) rating to A1 from Aa3 affecting $12.9 million of Moody’s rated GO debt. The downgrade to A1 reflects a declining trend in operating fund cash and the village’s elevated pension liabilities that are expected to continue to grow given current contribution practices. Also reflected in the A1 rating is the village’s solid economic profile characterized by above average resident income and a high full value per capita, a satisfactory reserve position, and a manageable direct debt burden.
After Moody’s Investor Service downgraded the Village of Morton Grove’s bond rating from Aa2 to Aa3 on Feb. 6,2015, the village board called in an expert to analyze the move.
Elizabeth Hennessy, managing director of William Blair & Co., an asset management firm, told board members at their Feb. 9 2015 meeting the downgrade was not something to worry about. “You’re still in the double A category, which is the most important thing,” she said, adding that the impact of the downgrade is “not a lot.”
Trustee Bill Grear said his understanding was that the bond downgrade came about because of three factors: a lack of revenue in the Waukegan Road TIF (tax increment financing) district, lower cash flow due to the state being three to four months behind in payments and because Morton Grove’s pension funds are only 52 percent funded.
So, from 2009 the village bond rating fell from Aa2 to A1, meaning that Morton Grove bonds went from a rating of “High quality and very low credit risk” to “Upper medium grade and low credit risk” What this means in plain English is that the village will have to pay a higher premium on their debt obligations due to the downgrade.
There seems to be a pattern here that started with the election of the current administration and the “revolving door” of village department heads.
Speaking of revolving department heads, here is a little tidbit that will make your head spin.
The local paper reported a while back that the Fire Chief, Tom Freil was the acting Finance Director.
I read something last year that the Fire Chief was in charge of the Civic Center including Senior programming and Fire Chief, Tom Freil was also acting Village Administrator before the Village hired back the old fire chief to be village administrator…again!
How can the Fire Chief wear so many hats in one town?
Who was running the Fire Department while the Tom Freil was running everything else??
I looked up on the village web site where it list all of the wages paid to everyone who works for the Village of Morton Grove. Fire Chief Tom Freil base salary is $144,212 per year plus pension, plus hospitalization.
The burning question is; “Does the Village of Morton Grove really need a Fire Chief if the one we already have has time to run the Finance Department, The Civic Center /Senior Programming, and fill in as The Village Administrator?”
The Fire Department seemed to perform well without Tom Freil giving his full attention to it.
With the hiring of Ralph Czerwinzky the old Village of Morton Grove Fire Chief as Village Administrator and the filling of jobs of Finance Director and the fact that the Fire Department worked just fine without Fire Chief Tom Freil, does the Village need the expense? Why not save the $144,212 per year plus pension, plus hospitalization and stop the revolving door of village departments heads leaving.
Then we have this; according to the December 20, 2015 Morton Grove Champion, The Morton Grove Village Board has voted unanimously to help bring a 10,000 square foot Moretti’s Restaurant to the village in the hope the move will be an economic and social boost for the community, officials said.
“I think it’s a real catalyst for other things in this transit oriented development we have in the midsection of the village right near the tracks,” Morton Grove village administrator Ralph Czerwinski said Friday.
During its Dec. 14 regular meeting the Morton Grove Village Board voted unanimously to approve an ordinance authorizing a redevelopment agreement for a new Moretti’s Restaurant at 6415 Dempster Street. The proposed 10,000 square foot Morton Grove Moretti’s will be located on the village-owned vacant property on Dempster Street, east of the Metra tracks, and will accommodate approximately 350 patrons in three separate dining areas, bar and outdoor patio area, officials said.
Under the terms of the redevelopment agreement, the village will finance the restaurant owner’s $1.66 million purchase of the land, Czerwinski explained. He said the loan owed to the village will be reduced based on new property and sales taxes generated by the business. “It’s buy as you go type agreement,” he added.
So a multi-million dollar restaurant operation gets a sweetheart deal where they get land owned by the village for no money down and they pay the “loan” back using tax money generated by sales at the establishment. Why was this “deal” rushed through by the administration and the “rubber stamp” village board?
Why wasn’t the due diligence of a traffic safety study done? Where was the hearing by the zoning board. Why wasn’t the appearance commission allowed to have input on his project?
Usually, when a deal like this sails through so quickly, it means that the rails have been liberally greased… that’s the “Chicago way”. But wait a minute, this happened in good old Morton Grove.
Something stinks here, and it’s not a skunk from the nearby forest preserve.