Outgoing Oak Lawn Treasurer Pat O’Donnell got his props Tuesday night, just 16 months after painting a gloomy financial picture of a village that was struggling with debt and unable to meet pension obligations.
Tuesday night’s meeting was O’Donnell’s last following his resignation after 19 months on the job.
He is being replaced by Joe Skibinski, a certified public accountant and member of the police and fire pension boards for the past year. The board unanimously approved Skibinski’s appointment on Tuesday.
“Pat has very sadly told me he’s moving on,” said Bury, who appointed O’Donnell in June 2013, shortly after she was elected.
The mayor credited O’Donnell for providing clarity to village finances and possessing the ability to explaining the long-term view to trustees who often are “in the moment” when it comes to budgets and finances.
“You did this job because you love Oak Lawn sincerely,” said Bury, who noted that O’Donnell did not take a salary for the position.
O’Donnell played a major role in helping the village take initial steps in paying down debt and increasing the annual contribution to the police and fire pensions.
The village in 2013 contributed $2.4 million to the pension funds, but will increase the amount to $4.9 million for 2015, according to a presentation given by O’Donnell.
O’Donnell offered some final tips during his brief presentation.
“I don’t think you tax your way out of this,” he said of the pension problems.
Rather, the possibility of selling village-owned property might help raise addition funds, he said.
O’Donnell’s presentation listed several village-owned properties that could be sold, including: Jack’s Towing, 4440 Southwest Highway; the 5210 W. 95th Street building and the former sewer lift station at 6100 W. 99th Street.
Village Finance Director Brian Hanigan said the village’s goal for the next few years is to “be disciplined about (debt) pay down.”
O’Donnell said he enjoyed his tenure with the village.
“It’s been a great experience for myself,” O’Donnell said. “I wish you all good luck. We’ve made some tremendous progress. I think this board should be very, very proud of its accomplishments.
Trustee Tim Desmond credited O’Donnell for explaining village finances in laymen’s terms, and Trustee Alex Olejniczak noted that he always was willing to listen.
“I know it not an easy job dealing with a lot of different and strong personalities,” added Trustee Carol Quinlan.
“You put the politics out of it,” Trustee Mike Carberry said.
Trustee Bob Streit, a critic of O’Donnell’s appointment, was the lone trustee not to comment on the treasurer’s body of work at Tuesday’s meeting.
Skibinski is a former member of the Oak Lawn Library Board and a finance committee member at St. Linus parish. He teaches public finance classes at Governor’s State University.
An Oak Lawn native, Skibinski credited O’Donnell for “changing the tone of the conversation” when it comes to village finances. He said his primary focus would be to generate new revenue for the village.