No more free passes for Park Ridge park board members
In a move likely to save taxpayers money, the Park Ridge Park District board voted in July to eliminate certain perks for its members.
Board member Robert Leach said on a recent "Illinois Rising" that the vote was a great bipartisan effort that put its members on equal footing with its constituents.
“I think what is great about a nonpartisan board like this is that it crosses party lines,” Leach said. “This is just good prudence governance that I think should be applied to any level of government all the way up to the federal. If we can make one small statement in our little town ... I think that’s one good step in the right direction.”
Board members had been receiving free admission to park district facilities and programs, such as fitness classes.
“In the past years, I believe commissioners used this perk to allow for gym membership for different classes that a park district offers, and they would do it for free,” Leach said. “If you really added those types of expenses up per commissioner, it gets into the thousands of dollars.”
The fitness membership was valued at $400 per year.
Leach said the board voted 6-0 to eliminate the perks, so it was clearly the right thing to do.
“The problem I had is if you’re not going to consider this a perk, and you’re going to suggest that this is legitimate, which I didn’t, then you would have reporting functions, and you would have a lot of other details that you would be providing back to staff, which we never saw ,and I don’t really believe existed at a high level,” Leach said. “I think this just went into the ‘bucket’ of a perk. This [vote] allowed us to do what is right for our constituents.”
Board members serve voluntarily.