The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Landmark’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Nick Tricoci
Previous Political Experience: None
Previous/Current Community Involvement: Trustee, North Riverside Police Pension Board; trustee, North Riverside Fire Pension Board; member, Holy Name Society; member, Italian-American Civic Organization of Berwyn; vice-president, Forest Park Little League
Occupation: office manager
Education: St. Joseph High School
During the past two annual budget discussions, North Riverside trustees have been faced with steep general operating fund deficits. In 2021-22, federal COVID relief funds offset a projected $1 million deficit, but those funds are not available in 2022-23, a year in which North Riverside projects an approximate $900,000 deficit. Village staff have projected operating budget deficits of more than $2 million annually for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 fiscal years.
With that as a backdrop, how would you as a village trustee approach the following financial issues:
1. With paramedic services coming back in-house and the village poised to hire six additional firefighters/paramedics over the next three years, North Riverside will be adding to its long-term pension burden. How will that additional pension burden be absorbed in future budgets?
After sitting through the last two years of budget meetings, I’ve seen how difficult it can be to make some of those hard decision. Figuring out ways to limit our pension liability will be one our biggest challenges for North Riverside. As a current trustee on the Fire pension board for nearly 2 years, I can understand the funding, contribution, and liability of both sides. One way to fund the pensions could be through contract negotiations. Making decisions during contract negotiations that benefit the village and its fire fighters is. Also, continuing to explore what works best for other neighboring communities is a good idea. We are not the only town dealing with this. As hard as it will be, I believe the appropriate decisions can be made if all of the trustees bring ideas to the conversation.
2. Red light cameras, which produce more than $1 million in revenue for the village each year, will be removed from the Harlem/Cermak intersection this spring and could be permanently gone if the state does not approve a new application for their installation. Would you support reinstalling red-light cameras at Harlem and Cermak once the intersection is improved this year? If not, how do you believe North Riverside can make up for that loss of revenue.
Yes, I am a proponent of the red-light cameras. There are a few reasons why I believe they are in important. Many resident s may not know this but in an emergency, those 24 hours cameras serve as eyes for the Police Department. They assist in traffic accidents, and can be used for investigative purposes. Another important reason is that red-light cameras serve as revenue generators. I understand that red light cameras can be unpopular when we address them as revenue generators, but they are. I’m sure many residents have been in a situation where they wish a police officer was around to catch reckless driving. The surveillance is available to watch online if a ticket is generated which seems straight forward. If you run the light, do not yield to traffic signs or almost run over a pedestrian, you should expect a ticket. I think most people tend to slow don’t or are more observant if a police officer is next to you or if they notice the red-light camera.
3. From 2017-19, the village embarked on a major project to improve its Cermak Road water main west of First Avenue. The project got as far as 11th Avenue before coming to a halt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you believe that it is important for the village to continue this project and, if so, how can the village fund this work, which has cost almost $500,000 for each of the first three phases?
Yes, I believe it is important for the Village to continue this project. We should be exhausting all possible ways to receive Grant money for projects regarding health and safety in our Village. Some resident s may not be aware, but the State of Illinois is requiring Villages have lead pipes removed from residential water lines that connect to the Village main line and be replaced with copper lines. It is important that residents are aware of these issues. I am in favor of maintaining home and Village water mains to insure safe water to all our residents.
4. If the village were in a position to gain an adult-use cannabis dispensary, would you support such a use in the village? If yes, in what area of the village do you think it should be located? Do you believe that there are any specific village expenses that the village should prioritize using cannabis tax revenues?
Yes, absolutely. Allowing a business that is regulated by the state while generating some astronomical tax revenue dollars for many communities could be a great idea. Having the proper procedures and protocols in place is key. Creating an ordinance that makes the most sense is the first step. A dispensary would best be suited in our Business District to keep traffic at a minimum and more visual to traffic. One of our neighboring towns is estimating a sales tax revenue of $250,000 per year from a cannabis dispensary. If we are able to acquire a cannabis dispensary, I would like to see the revenue earmarked towards current and future pension obligations. Having a plan is always going to me the key to our success. Knowing what we will do with the revenue is very important to keep chipping away at current liabilities.
5. In the absence of a cannabis dispensary, would you support an expansion of video gambling parlors? How would you respond to those who believe video parlors should be limited to the existing 10?
Yes, I support an expansion of video gaming parlors that are limited to our Business District. re-zoning our Business District to keep additional parlors out of residential areas. Video gaming generated the Village of North Riverside for year 2022 $476,605.48. The Chief of Police has mentioned numerous times that the Police Department does not get many, if any, calls from these establishments. The crime is lower than some may think, and the Village is benefiting from the liquor license fees on top of the monthly revenue they generate.
6. Would you support placing a referendum on the ballot asking for the village to become a home rule community? Why or why not? Would you support seeking home rule status for the village?
Yes, when it comes to home rule education is key for residents and trustees. I am always in favor or let’s have a conversation to figure out what is best for OUR Village. North Riverside is being limited in areas of funding. Home rule allows a Village Board the options to increase fees such as: gaming licenses, places for eating tax, entertainment establishments, administrative fees. It doesn’t always mean increasing property taxes as some may think. The decisions we make as trustees need to be made for the benefits of the Village. Continuing to move forward as a Village is a key factor.
7. Would you support placing a referendum on the ballot seeking to impose a tax levy to fund police and/or fire pension obligations? Why or why not? Would you support a pension levy referendum?
Pensions have been an issue for the Village of North Riverside as well as many others in the State of Illinois. North Riverside has funded their contribution the last 7-8 years at an average of 106%. Due to the red-light cameras potentially being removed, for a while, I believe that the Village needs to explore every option to keep those pensions funded moving forward.
8. The village in 2020 bought the former Presbyterian church property at 24th Street and 8th Avenue. How do you believe the village should determine the best use for that property? Should the village keep it? If so, for what purpose? If not, why not?
I believe that North Riverside should have the property appraised. Village owned property allows for the Village to make the best decision on what will come and benefit the residents. I think there are a bunch of great ideas that have been tossed out. I can tell you that I would be in favor of something that would generate revenue, create a safe space for our children play or teenagers to work, somewhere that bring light into the community. I think it should be something that will make residents happy to have part of the community.