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Buy locally, Mundelein trustee urges

Mundelein Trustee Dawn Abernathy urges village to buy locally.
To buy locally or not to buy locally? One Mundelein trustee asks the question.

Mundelein village Trustee Dawn Abernathy questioned at a recent board meeting why the village administration hadn't made more of an effort to purchase office equipment locally.

The board ultimately authorized the administration to pay bills totaling roughly $1 million.

The bulk of the expenses were related to a new fire truck, which was purchased through Alabama-based Brindlee Mountain Fire Apparatus Co. for roughly $500,000, as well as Lake Michigan water purchased for $210,000 from the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency, said village trustee and finance committee chair Ed Sullivan.

But it was the lower-cost items included in the list of bills that caught Abernathy's attention.

Abernathy said the village had spent several hundred dollars on office supplies from an Office Depot located in Vernon Hills.

She asked why staff would purchases items from a business in Vernon Hills when a Staples store is located within village limits.

Village Administrator John Lobaito said staff had recently opened an account at Staples, located at 2964 Illinois Route 60, and "negotiated somewhat of a discount" with the store.

Still, he said, staff compared the cost of the needed items online and opted to go with the least expensive product that still offered the same quality.

A price difference of 50 cents or a dollar or two wouldn't persuade Abernathy to shop outside of the village, she said.

"Personally, if I'm going shopping, I'll go shop where it's a dollar more, but I'm shopping in Mundelein," Abernathy said.

Delivery, availability of an item and cost all come into play when the village decides where to purchase goods, Lobaito said.

"One thing is clear is that the village board prefers we shop local, and I think we understand that," he said.

But, he added, "we're also looking at price, too, and we're sensitive to the taxpayers' dollars and how we spend that money."

In other business, the board authorized staff to draft an ordinance which would grant a parking variation to a currently vacant building located at 2050 S. Lake St.

Trustee Terri Voss, the chair of the board's community and economic development committee, said the building had been unoccupied for some time and the property owner was interested in redeveloping the site, but lacked the required number of parking spaces.

Staff told the board that the total square footage of the building would normally dictate that a developer include 38 parking spots, but the site only has space for about 30.

The building is currently divided into seven units -- which would be the maximum number of businesses able to open in that location.

The developer, in conjunction with city staff, made attempts to allow for overflow parking at the neighboring Doubletree by Hilton hotel, but the negotiations fell through, staff said.

Voss said that despite the shortage of parking spaces at the site, she believed the board should approve the ordinance when it's presented at a later meeting.

"I think things are going to be tight there," Sullivan said. "But the owner is not going to make the improvements without the variance. If he's willing to risk that, who are we to worry about it?"

triblocaltips@tribune.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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