Was not long ago that the combination of historically bad local policies and the hammer of a collapsing national economy put North Riverside’s municipal government in the squeeze box. Critical sales tax revenues were walloped by imploding retail sales as consumers hunkered down. And alternative revenues were nearly non-existent in a town that had given its residents a free ride on the usual sources of local revenue — property taxes, water and sewer charges, etc.
Now the economy has gradually clawed its way back and North Riverside has benefitted from key retail investments, such as a ring of new restaurants and bars near the mall and the arrival of Costco. That’s good. But the town would make an error if it didn’t plan for the next downturn and the continued shift of retail to online purchases.
On the revenue side, North Riverside has seemingly learned the lesson that diverse revenue streams, several of them paid by the residents who use the services, are essential and fair. Property taxes need to be increased modestly every year. Water funds need to operate at a profit so the proceeds can be reinvested in aging infrastructure.
That’s just good management. Kudos to Mayor Hubert Hermanek and Finance Director Sue Scarpiniti for riding this long trough. Now the village needs to get past its unproductive feud with the its firefighters. Compromise.