Lansing hires new village attorney

2012-09-18T22:15:00Z 2012-09-18T23:20:04Z Lansing hires new village attorneyGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
September 18, 2012 10:15 pm  • 

LANSING | For the first time in 18 years, a new attorney will oversee the village's legal needs.

The Village Board voted Tuesday to hire a new firm to serve as corporate council. The board also finalized a measure reducing salaries of elected officials.

Trustees voted 6-0 on a measure that appointed the South Holland-based law firm of Hiskes, Dillner, O’Donnell, Marovich & Lapp Ltd. to provide legal services to village government.

While the resources of the entire law firm will be available to Lansing, Village Administrator J. Wynsma said partner Timothy C. Lapp would be the primary attorney assigned to oversee Lansing’s concerns.

Wynsma said he is pleased to hire the law firm, which he said has handled some legal issues for Lansing in the past.

“They are familiar with our issues and with the community,” he said.

Lapp will replace Village Attorney Dale Anderson, who has held the post for 18 years but plans to retire to Florida with his wife.

Village President Norm Abbott said Lapp will take over Wednesday. Anderson will work for Lansing on a part-time basis for the rest of the year to "finish up” work on specific cases, he said.

Abbott praised Anderson’s work, noting that he oversaw the development of 3,100 ordinances and 925 resolutions during his time as village attorney.

Trustees also voted 6-0 to reduce the salaries and compensation paid to the village president and trustees once new terms begin in May. Those elected in the April 9 municipal elections will receive salaries of $15,000 for the village president and $13,000 for trustees.

The pay reductions reflect the recent hiring of a full-time village administrator, which turns elected officials into part-time overseers, rather than full-time managers in their own right.

Also eliminated are provisions that allowed for expense accounts and insurance benefits for those officials, along with village-owned automobiles for use by the village president and clerk.

Under state law, compensation for elected officials cannot be changed during a current term, and must be approved at least six months prior to the beginning of a new term – meaning that action was required now to make changes take effect in May.

Until then, the village is paying Wynsma his full salary of $130,000 per year at the same time as paying the remainder of Abbott's annual salary of $110,000.

Jeff Zupan, the village's former building commissioner, took exception to that.

Former village Building Commissioner Jeff Zupan used a public comment portion of the meeting to suggest that Abbott “forgo a salary for the time being,” saying, “a part-time mayor doesn’t need a full-time salary.”

Abbott would not say what he thought of that suggestion.

“There are going to be a lot of changes in coming months in the way we do things in Lansing," he said. "Some people are going to like what they see, while others won’t.”

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