FAQs

Q?

What is the Village’s strategic plan and why is it important?

A.

The Strategic Plan is a high-level planning document that prioritizes and address the challenges currently facing the Village and provides policy directions that will move Morton Grove forward. Mayor DiMaria initiated the Village’s first-ever strategic planning process shortly after taking office. The process included an interactive website, community workshops, surveys and focus groups to obtain and incorporate input, ideas, and consensus from all facets of the Village. A copy of the Strategic Plan can be found here. The Village has implemented many of the recommendations of the Strategic Plan, including strengthening the Village’s property maintenance enforcement efforts, updating Village Codes, developing the new Village logo and tagline, creating and enhancing opportunities for community engagement and participation, collaborating with neighboring communities, and focusing on attracting and retaining new businesses.

Q?

Why is economic development important, and what is the Village doing to attract and keep good businesses?

A.

Businesses provide opportunities to shop and dine in Morton Grove, as well as sales tax and property tax revenues that help pay for the village’s services and infrastructure. The prior administration made drastic cuts to the Village’s Economic Development effort. As soon as he was elected, Mayor DiMaria hired an Economic Development Director and invested Village resources to help current businesses and attract new businesses. We also streamlined our regulations to make Morton Grove more business friendly. We implemented a façade improvement program, which provides grants to businesses that improve the exterior appearance of their storefronts. The Village has also produced a local restaurant guide to highlight our diverse dining opportunities and encourage residents to shop and dine local. We also have approved incentive agreements to bring Moretti’s Restaurant, McGrath Audi, and new luxury residences and retail stores to 8700 Waukegan. We have laid the framework for future economic development, but we hope you recognize that to be successful, we need a sustained ongoing process. Continuity in local government is critical for our future success.

Q?

What has the Village done to stabilize our water rates?

A.

Since 2008, the water rate charged by Chicago has risen by 114%. In 2013, Mayor DiMaria and the Village Board began working with Niles to evaluate purchasing water from a high-quality alternative source at a lower, more stable rate. On January 23, the Village Board approved a 40-year water agreement with the City of Evanston to purchase Lake Michigan water. After including conservative estimates for infrastructure costs, Morton Grove is projected to save approximately $100 million dollars over the life of the contract. This is a great example of the Board working together with our neighbors to provide benefits to our residents now and for decades to come. More information on the water project is available here.

Q?

What is the Village doing to improve Prairie View Shopping Center and get a grocery store at the center?

A.

A. Four years ago, the Village did not focus on bringing new businesses to our Village. The prior administration’s approach was reactive, not pro-active. Upon taking office, Mayor DiMaria established the Village’s first strategic plan and made economic development a top priority. Codes have been changed to be more business-friendly. The Village started aggressively marketing the Village to grocery stores, restaurants and other businesses that our residents want. This approach has resulted in successes- the most notable being the new Moretti’s. Prairie View remains a challenge.

Prairie View has been privately owned by the same family for over four decades. Currently, the owner does not want to sell the property. We have met with and continue to work with the owner to revitalize this important retail area. We have reached out to numerous grocery stores that may be interested in relocating to this site. The Village is willing to provide incentives for desired businesses as long as our residents realize a good return from this investment. While this process takes time, we will not stop working until our goal is met. Morton Grove Prairie View Presentation

Q?

What is the significance of the Village’s new logo?

A.

Updating the Village’s logo was part of the Village’s pro-active effort to market the Village to new businesses, but it is so much more. Our new logo describes who we are. We are incredibly close to Chicago and O’Hare Airport, but most importantly to each other. Some of us have lived here for decades, others are newbies. We come from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and almost every major religion is represented in Morton Grove. Our diversity and the way we embrace it and live in harmony is one of our best assets. Likewise, amazingly open does not just represent our abundant open spaces, forest preserves, parks, golf course and riding trails, it signifies that we are open-minded to new businesses, new opportunities and neighbors.

Q?

Why do we have video gaming?

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Video gaming was brought into the Village during the last Village administration to generate revenue and help small businesses. When regulated appropriately, gaming licenses help some of our longtime businesses pay their bills and can be used to attract good businesses. We have seen zero increase in crime since gaming was allowed. However, under Mayor DiMaria’s administration, an Ordinance was passed to regulate signage on gaming facilities, prohibit gaming establishments near schools and limit the number of gaming establishments allowed in the Village. During the former administration, seven establishments were allowed gaming licenses compared to two new licenses permitted during the past four years.

Q?

How has the Police Department changed in the past four years?

A.

One of the most important decisions made by Mayor DiMaria was hiring Mike Simo as our new Police Chief in 2014. After conducting a comprehensive regional search, the Mayor broke with a long-standing practice and hired from outside of the department. Chief Simo brought a fresh perspective with an emphasis on community policing. He started new programs like the Citizen’s Police Academy and National Night Out. Unlike other communities, Morton Grove residents respect, trust and have confidence in our police department and our officers’ morale has greatly improved.

Q?

What is going on with Village Pensions?

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The Village’s greatest assets are our employees. We firmly believe that retirees and current employees are entitled to the pension they were promised. That said, pension costs are rising faster than any other Village expense. The pension benefits are set in Springfield, but paid locally. The Village has never defaulted on a pension payment and every year, we contribute more towards our pension obligations than the minimum payment required by law. We are also in constant discussions with our state representatives for meaningful pension reform for future employees.

Q?

Are the Action Party Candidates fiscally responsible?

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Simple answer - yes. All of us are committed to maintaining our excellent Village services while keeping property taxes as low as possible. We understand that many of our residents, especially our seniors live on fixed incomes. Since Mayor DiMaria has been in office the Board has not approved a property tax hike. Remember the Village only makes up about 15% of your property tax bill. Your property taxes can increase due to increases for schools, the Park District, the Library, and other taxing bodies. Your property taxes can also increase if your property’s assessed value increases at a greater rate than other properties

Q?

Your opposition says they are independent candidates. What does that mean, and why should that matter?

A.

The Action Party is not aligned with any national political parties like the Democratic or Republican Party. We are a group of residents who believe in the potential of Morton Grove. None of us are active in national politics. We have our own perspectives and do not agree on every issue. Our common goal is the betterment of Morton Grove. We simply organize together, especially at election time, to work on campaign mailings, stuff envelopes, and walk the neighborhoods to talk to residents on behalf of the candidates. We welcome anyone who cares about Morton Grove to join us.

Our opponents are “independent” in name only. Most of them are members of Niles Township’s Republican Organization, two of them ran as Rick Santorum (an ultra-right wing Republican) delegates in last year’s national primary election. They have the same website, raise funds as a group and send out group mailings, just like a political party. In fact, they filed as a political committee with the state Board of elections. That does not look like they are independent. The only real difference between the two organizations is the Action Party wants to move Morton Grove forward, and the “Independent” Party seemingly wants to go backward.