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Monday, March 4, 2024

Dolton trustees override mayor’s veto of budget cuts

The Dolton Village Board voted Monday to override a veto by Mayor Tiffany Henyard of a village budget approved last month that included cuts she said would bankrupt the village.

The 4-2 vote came after a three-hour meeting that began with Henyard announcing her veto of the action taken at the Jan. 2 Village Board meeting, where trustees, also by a 4-2 vote, approved the spending plan.

Trustees also approved a 2023 tax levy, for taxes collected this year, unchanged from the 2022 levy.

The Village Board included spending cuts for the Fire, Police and Public Works departments.

Henyard told trustees to reinstate money.

“I’m asking you to go back to the drawing board,” she said.

Henyard said the funding is needed if Dolton intends to settle labor contracts with departments, including police and fire.

The village’s fiscal year began May 1 and ends April 30.

Village department heads decried the cutbacks, saying they were jeopardizing their departments’ ability to function.

“You can’t cut a million dollars out of the budget and get the services the residents deserve,” Lewis Lacey, deputy police chief, said Monday.

“Our Police Department is an outstanding police department, and if you want us to function as a police department, don’t cut our budget,” he said.

Fire Chief Pete McCain said he wants “to continue to have the funding necessary” to maintain adequate fire services in the village and give firefighters “fair market value” as far as their pending contract.

Trustee Andrew Holmes also criticized budget cuts, particularly for police.

“We need everything and more to make this village safe,” Holmes said. “Fire, police, public works should never be de-funded. The money should always be there.”

“The safety of this community is in jeopardy if we don’t have adequate police staff,” Holmes said.

Trustee Brittney Norwood said, as of September, the village had a spending deficit of $7 million and was unsure of the exact number.

“We’re overpaying for the services, all of the services,” Norwood said.

The Village Board also voted 6-0 to approve a property tax levy of $15.8 million, which is the same as the 2022 levy.

Trustees discussed taking more time to assess what the village needed to fund services, but Michael Del Galdo, the village’s attorney, warned a delay could result in Dolton not being able to levy any taxes. He said the village was already nearly two months late in adopting the levy, which municipalities typically do at the end of each calendar year.

“If we end up in March after the tax bills have been printed, the train will have left without Dolton on board,” Del Galdo said.

Sibley shooting

During his report, Lacey touched briefly on the shooting Jan. 31 outside the Auto Zone store on Sibley Boulevard, in which several shots were fired.

Police from Dolton and multiple area agencies responded to reports of multiple people shot on the 1100 block of Sibley Boulevard in the village, and at least four people were taken to hospitals for treatment. The Police Department and the village never officially released any details about what happened.

Dolton Village Trustee Kiana Belcher, who witnessed the shooting, said people in two vehicles started shooting at each other on Sibley. Police told her several men were taken to the hospital, and the situation began in Calumet City.

At Monday’s meeting, Lacey said those involved in the shooting “came into our town from somewhere else” and that it remains under investigation, offering no other details.

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