Grantwood Village’s budget director resigned, effective immediately, at last week’s Board of Trustees meeting after more than 20 years in the position — the same night the village swore in its new trustees.
Budget Director Joe Forand, husband of former Chairwoman Cathy Forand, referenced new trustees’ Walter Rust and Will Larson’s campaign when he read a letter of resignation to the board.
“ The people have spoken in the polls, and they demand a quote ‘return to fiscal sanity.’ I cannot, in good conscience, participate in any return to the practices of 20 years ago,” Forand said.
When Forand took the budget director’s post more than two decades ago, he said the village had to postpone paying bills due to lack of funds. Since then, the village has “at least tripled” its cash reserves, while also reducing property rates.
Newly elected board Chairman Mark Kienstra, formerly treasurer, said under Forand’s direction the village has “more money in the bank than (it has) ever had.”
“I’m personally grateful for his guidance,” he said, “and I know the village is in remarkable stead because of his stewardship. We will miss his guidance.”
During a period for public comment, resident Pam Wendl asked why the budget director position does not fall under the role of treasurer.
Village Attorney Rich Magee said the budget director is an appointed position and suggested the board accept applications for the position.
“If a budget director is not found, the board may feel compelled to hire one, but it is an appointed position. That’s just the way villages are,” Magee said.
Trustee Kevin Kelso, who was appointed treasurer last week, said having a budget director also encourages transparency.
Rust and Larson were sworn in last week as well. Kienstra appointed trustees to the following board positions: Bob Bess as building commissioner, Kelso as treasurer, Larson as village clerk and Rust as public works commissioner — a position he initially declined.
“I had expressed interest in the treasurer of the village based on my past years of experience,” Rust told the board. “I felt that Kevin Kelso has performed admirably in this public works area. He has the knowledge of the concrete business and street business. I would decline at this time to accept the position of public works commissioner.”
While campaigning, Rust ran on the statement of creating a long-range street maintenance plan. Kelso said Rust would be in “no better position” to see that vision through than as public works commissioner.
“With my expertise, most contractors knowing me, we are getting a little bit of blowback that they think I shouldn’t be the public works commissioner,” he said. “So, ideally, you would be perfect for the position. You had ideas on a street sign, you had ideas about fixing your street in front of your house …”
However, Rust said during his campaign he was told he did not have the knowledge or experience to work on a street-improvement project.
“It was pointed out to me in Rock Forest in March that I did not have an engineering degree, I have no experience with regard to streets, (and) that I should not be talking to anybody about the street program,” Rust said.
After a board vote, Rust accepted the public works commissioner position.
Kienstra also thanked former Trustees Cathy Forand, who did not attend the April 17 meeting, and Pat Williams for serving on the board.
“I thank Cathy for her stewardship and her kindness and the many, many hours that she devoted every week to what she did,” he said. “And Pat stepped in last year when we needed someone to step in and help us, and … it has been an absolute pleasure … No matter what the task was, she would so graciously pick it up and just do it.”
Williams congratulated Larson and Rust on their election to the board and said it was an honor to serve the village and its residents.