SAUK VILLAGE | Trustee Derrick Burgess was disappointed the bickering continued.
"I was hoping that the well water crisis would galvanize our government," Burgess said during Tuesday night's board meeting. "I was hoping that this would bring us together to work in the best interests of the residents of Sauk Village. But instead, our in-fighting is worse than ever."
Residents who sat through Tuesday night's meeting witnessed political bickering and the blame game that rose to new heights in the village.
Two weeks earlier, members of the Village Board adopted several motions that set off a backlash from Village President Lewis Towers. On Tuesday, Towers vetoed several of those motions, which generated the heated debate.
Towers vetoed a motion that would deny funding Police Chief Robert Fox's personal expenditures, such as clothing, travel and seminars.
"It is ridiculous for the board to try and refuse training for our police chief," Towers said in explanation of his veto.
Trustee Ed Myers disagreed.
"While you have the right to exercise a veto, the fact is that the police chief has not signed the contract we offered him," Myers said.
Towers said that is because of the low salary in the contract.
"You cannot expect the chief to make less than the people he supervises," Towers countered.
Towers also vetoed the motion to raise the water rates from $3.90 per 1,000 gallons to $10.37 for the same amount.
"The residents should not be asked to pay more money for water with all of the troubles we are having," Towers said. High levels of vinyl chloride recently have been discovered in Sauk Village's well water.
Trustee David Hanks asked Towers how the village was supposed to move forward with the mandate to connect to Lake Michigan water.
"The residents voted (in the March 20 public referendum) for Lake Michigan water, and knew they would have to pay higher water bills," Hanks said. "How are we going to get the project moving forward if we do not have funds to do so?"
Trustee Enoch Benson said that several board members are undermining Towers, Fox and Village Manager Henrietta Turner.
"These board members want to be the mayor and (police) Chief Fox and Village Manager Turner," Benson said. "All of the roadblocks that they put up keep this village from moving forward. They do this for their own purposes."
Towers also vetoed a motion to put cell tower funds in a separate account. Board members wanted to make sure the money from cell tower leases was used for code enforcement.
"We do not need a separate account to pay our code enforcement personnel," Towers said. "All of this is paid from the general fund."
On three separate occasions, Trustee Rosie Williams asked if all of the "grandstanding and posturing" could be skipped and the agenda followed.
A total of four motions were vetoed. Williams asked that all four be placed on the next agenda so the board would have the right to override the vetoes and put the motions back in place.