As expected by everyone, with the exception of the Bury administration, Oak Lawn’s taxpayer-funded newspaper, Oak Lawn Matters, has continued to lose money. According to documents obtained from the Village, the August issue lost taxpayers another $4,763.
For the three issues to date, the taxpayer-funded newspaper has cost the Village over $18,000. Expenses remain flat month over month. Fanning Communications cost $3,000. Printing cost $2,410. Postage cost $3,737. The total expenses for the 3 months was $27,441.
Advertising revenue for the three months has been anemic, despite assurances to the contrary from Trustee Alex Olejniczak (District 2). Advertising credit to date is approximately $3,000. That puts the taxpayers in the hole by about $24,000, for a project that was supposed to pay for itself.
This will obviously come as a shock to Trustee Olejniczak. In March, he said, “I would be shocked if we wouldn’t be able to create positive cash flow within the first two to three [months].”
Trustee Terry Vorderer (District 4), also chimed in supporting the taxpayer-funded newspaper. He said, “looking at the Crestwood last three publications, I looked at the advertising, and Crestwood’s doing a wonderful job with the advertising, and I’ve talked with the Mayor (Lou Presta)and the Mayor tells me it doesn’t cost his community much of anything, and in some months it’s positive.”
Trustee “Bud” Stalker (District 5) also chimed in. Stalker said he had great confidence the idea would work, claiming that businesses were asking for the opportunity to advertise in such a publication.
It should come as no surprise to readers that Trustees Olejniczak, Vorderer, and Stalker were wrong. Back in March, the Leaf reported that Fanning Communications also published Crestwood’s newspaper. The Crestwood Adviser also has a history of losing taxpayers money. According to records from Crestwood, their newspaper cost them over $100,000 to date.
Oak Lawn’s mailing base is much larger than Crestwood’s, so expenses are higher. In March, Trustee Robert Streit (District 3) warned that Oak Lawn Matters would cost taxpayers over $100,000 per year.
On March 22nd, the Board of Trustees voted 5-1 on an ordinance authorizing the expenditure of up to $30,000 on Oak Lawn Matters. With the publication of September’s issue, just the 4th, that budget has likely been expended.
The topic is likely to come before the Board of Trustees again, and soon. Without an amendment, the Village cannot pay for printing of Oak Lawn Matters. The question is, will the Board again choose to ignore all sound reason and evidence? Will they throw good money after bad?