Heights Hires Private Companies to Help Operate City Departments
The city council approved replacing a department head with a consulting firm and operating two other departments with the help of a private company.
The Chicago Heights Economic Development Department is operating under the consultation of the company JPH Inc. for the time being, after the city council voted 5-1 in favor the move at their Monday meeting.
The firm will fill the role of economic development director, once held by Joe Kudra, who took the city's early retirement incentive. Mayor David Gonzalez said the city has not determined whether the move toward contracting out the economic development department head's duties will be temporary or permanent.
"We haven't made the determination whether to bring it back in-house or to continue increasing the companies that can help us with economic development," Gonzalez said. "Right now, what we need is somebody just to cover the retirement of our economic development director."
The council also voted 5-1 in favor of hiring the accounting firm Lauterbach and Amen, who already handles the city's police and fire pension plans, to a new contract.
The firm would replace three retiring employees from the city's purchasing department by adding "the equivalent of two full-time employees" from the firm, according to Treasurer Jim Dee. The move involves a restructure of the treasurer's office and the purchasing department, Dee said.
Contracting the firm would cut costs on bond refinancing and budget preparation, which are normally handled by outside accounting firms, Dee said, adding that the change would not lose the city any money.
Fourth Ward Ald. Joshua Deabel voted against against both moves, and Third Ward Ald. Wanda Rodgers was not in attendance.