As promised, the Brookfield village board is expected to pass its 2006-07 operating budget in two weeks. That means the village will have its roadmap for the year in place before the fiscal year begins.

Seems like it only makes sense, but that hasn’t been the case over many years and many prior administrations. In the past, leaders waited until the last possible moment?”the end of July?”to pass a budget and appropriation ordinance.

It’s no wonder that the process was so loaded with political landmines. With one quarter of the year’s spending (or more) already on the books and other expenses in the pipeline, how could anything be adequately be budgeted for?

As a result, line items in the budget annually went unfunded, while a bloated appropriation ordinance allowed money to be spent virtually anywhere. It was, in a word, goofy. It also bred (indeed, it fostered) mistrust between rival political forces.

If Brookfield needed to create more political unity and professionalism, then the first step in that direction was treating its annual budget like the serious policy document it ought to be. With that step taken, everyone will be able to tell a year from now whether the plan was a solid one or not. But the approach this time around was one the village has needed for some time.

Now officials need to make their ambitious capital improvement plans a reality while maintaining an eye on the bottom line of the general fund. It’s a good start.

Keeping up appearances

No one likes getting those property maintenance notices from the village. The initial reaction goes something like this:

“They’re writing me up for a little peeling paint on the garage door? What about Joe Blow down the street? That guy has grass that’s two feet high!”

It’s never pleasant, but Riverside is embarking on a plan to perform a comprehensive sweep of residential properties in the village. Officials say this isn’t some boondoggle calculated to generate fines from the village. Rather, they say, it’s long overdue.

Contracting the work out to a private inspector will take some of the personal animus out of the equation and will give the village an opportunity to enforce its blight ordinance consistently.

In the long run, this is going to benefit Riverside by enforcing property maintenance issues. In the short run, it’s probably going to result in more violation notices and grumbling from those written up.

The only concern we have is for seniors written up during the summer sweep. Perhaps now the village could also come up with a program, maybe something akin to North Riverside’s Handyman Program, that might assist seniors in taking care of property maintenance issues.

If nothing else, it might soften the blow for those for whom fixing even simple property maintenance problems is truly a burden.