On Monday night, Brookfield Village President Michael Garvey told residents “it’s up to us” as a community to solve the fiscal crisis in which the village finds itself.

Without help from federal or state sources, which he did not believe would appear anyway, Garvey told community members at Monday night’s village board meeting that “We either have to have additional revenue or less employees.” Fewer employees, he said, would mean cuts in services the village provides.

The only way to raise that kind of revenue is for voters to approve a property tax hike. But whether village trustees are even ready to ask voters the tax question isn’t clear. Only three trustees made comments regarding the issue during what was to have been a discussion of a possible referendum during the board’s committee of the whole.

And just one trustee, Michael Towner, voiced strong support for a property tax hike to raise between $2.5 million and $3 million in additional annual revenue for government operations.

According to information provided by Village Manager Riccardo Ginex, such an increase would mean that the owner of a home with a market value of $225,000 would pay between $417 and $500 more per year in local property taxes.

If officials want to get such a question on the February ballot, they have until Nov. 30 to file such a resolution with the Cook County clerk.

“My opinion is we have to move forward on this,” Towner said. “If we don’t act soon, it just puts it off farther. If we don’t get money in 2011 … we’re going to lose a lot of people in a lot of departments.”

Trustee Cathy Colgrass Edwards said she wondered if it was realistic to expect voters to approve a tax hike given the current economic climate. Regardless, Edwards said, “I haven’t made up my mind” on a tax question.

The only other trustee to speak about the tax hike proposal was Brian Oberhauser, who asked village staff to enumerate the kinds of cuts that would have to be made if there’s no tax increase.

That information is expected to be delivered to trustees on Monday, Nov. 16, when the village board will meet for a public workshop on the 2010 budget. A draft version of the budget will be ready in time for the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. in the council room of the village hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

“We can have specific things at the budget hearing on Monday night,” said Assistant Village Manager Keith Sbiral. “We’re looking at a more serious discussion of numbers of people and departmental cuts. We’re at such a core level of services now; we don’t provide a lot of extras. If we cut more people, we’re cutting into the realities of that bare minimum.”

While the meeting on Monday night drew a decent crowd, just one member of the audience, a non-resident, addressed the board regarding the village’s financial state. However, what Mike Slinkman, whose family owns several rental properties in the village, had to say appeared to resonate with audience members, several of whom applauded his criticisms of village management.

“You need to open your eyes to the fact that the village is overstaffed at the top,” said Slinkman, who specifically named the village planner position as a job that could be cut without affecting services.

“Why does this village need a village planner right now?” he asked.

Garvey suggested that Slinkman’s knowledge of the planner’s duties was uninformed and contradicted Slinkman’s assertions that village management was top-heavy.

“I totally disagree with you,” Garvey said. “I speak for the board when I say that we stand behind these people.”

Slinkman also called out the board for a mistake in the 2008 library tax levy that ended up costing the village over $600,000 in expected tax receipts.

“It’s incomprehensible to me that the library levy mistake can be made and no one is held accountable,” Slinkman said. “In the private sector, they’d be fired.”

Whether or not the village decides to seek a tax referendum as early as February 2010, any tax revenue from a successful referendum wouldn’t be realized until the fall of 2011. That means there are still hard decisions to be made on services, personnel and capital projects for next year and 2011.

At least two trustees, Edwards and David LeClere said they would support forgoing some $3 million in federal grant money to finish the Grand Boulevard reconstruction project, which is slated for completion in 2011, in order to fund other operations.

However, it looks as if the village may have come to terms with two of its labor units, whose contracts could be ratified next Monday in time for the budget discussions. The terms of those contracts weren’t available as of press time, but management was seeking wage concessions in order to limit more layoffs.