Economic competition key for Oakbrook Terrace
Oakbrook City Manager John Carpino talks about issues facing the city. | Chuck Fieldman—Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 1:55AM
OAKBROOK TERRACE —With April municipal elections approaching, we sat down with city and village managers to ask about issues facing their communities. John Carpino has been city manager in Oakbrook Terrace since 2010. He served as a member of the Oakbrook Terrace Police Department from 1979 to 2002.
Q. Can you briefly describe the top three issues Oakbrook Terrace faces?
A. Maintaining our revenue stream and increasing it is very important. We want to maintain the businesses we have here now, and we work with the Chamber of Commerce to attract more businesses.
We have to be proactive because there are so many other communities along the I-88 corridor also trying to get more businesses.
We do economic development right here on the ground level. We go out everyday; we want to make sure people here know us.
Being conservative, financially, also is important for us. We watch our spending very closely and are always looking for ways to save money.
Long-range planning is important for us, too. We want our infrastructure to be very sound; we’re looking to expand our water line, and we want to put in a lighting system with streetlights for the safety of our residents.
Q. Given the economy, how would you describe Oakbrook Terrace’s financial situation?
A. We’re in good shape. Our sales tax is flat, which means there’s no decrease. We also signed a very reasonable three-year contract with our police officers last year.
Q. Oakbrook Terrace got home-rule authority in 2002. Ten years into that, how is it working, and how important has it been to the city?
Without home rule, we’d definitely be struggling. We have a home-rule sales tax, which is 1 percent additional, and that generates about $1.6 million a year. Our hotel tax generates $1.3 million, so between those two things, we’re getting about $2.9 million. Our annual budget is about $10 million, so those taxes are very important in generating revenue for us.
Q. How is the state’s pension crisis affecting Oakbrook Terrace?
A. It just creates a big uncertainty. We’re always worried that the state will cut some things, but we stay on top of it so that we can at least be aware of what’s going on.
Q. Do you think Oakbrook Terrace does a good job conducting its business transparently?
A. We’re very transparent, and we’re going to be much more transparent soon. We have an antiquated website, but we’ve been working on updating it. The key to transparency now is putting all the information on the website because that’s where everyone goes.