Townscape, Illinois is a growing suburban community located thirty-five miles west of downtown Chicago. Townscape began nearly 150 years ago as a small town nestled on the banks of the Fox River. The village began as rural, farming community of 2000 inhabitants that depended on the river as a source for power as well as transportation until the middle of the Twentieth Century. Approximately fifty years ago, the community experienced its first significant period of growth, transforming it from a small farming community to a full service suburban city of 30,000 people. This very quick period of growth was facilitated by a large developer offering very affordable housing to the families of servicemen coming home from World War II. Townscape experienced another significant period of growth in the late 1990’s, swelling its population to well over 50,000 residents.
Prior to the building boom of the late 1990’s, Townscape’s municipal infrastructure of roads, sewer and water facilities, public safety buildings and schools were all built during the first expansion occurring in the early 1950’s. Townscape had no definable town center and subsequently had a lower ratio of residential to commercial tax base than other cities of similar demographics. The city’s residents shoulder the majority of the city budget that is hardly keeping pace with the additional demands of new residents, much less planning for the replacement of necessary services. The city is now faced with making significant decisions with regard to the replacement of a crumbling sixty year old infrastructure, maintaining an acceptable level of service for its residents, and planning and upgrading public buildings to meet the needs of an expanded workforce employed to serve the growing community.
The City of Townscape is considered a full service community and is chartered by the state as a council-manager form of government. It maintains its own police and fire departments, streets and sanitation department, underground utility department, water filtration plant, sewer treatment facility, community development and building department and city administration. The city is governed by a part-time board President and six member Board of Commissioners. The Board appoints a full time City Manager who as the chief operating officer has full authority to appoint all department heads. The city employs 325 people and has an operating budget of approximately $30,000,000. While there has been significant growth in the community over the last five years, the majority of the growth has been single family residential housing.
The City of Townscape must begin making some important decisions on its future. The City Manager will need to examine the current state of city finances, personnel needs, infrastructure improvements and public and political sentiment towards new sources of revenue. Other public bodies, such as school and park districts and the county board, are also concerned as to the direction Townscape will take in the next decade as well. You are a member of the Townscape City Council, whom the City Manager consults with on various projects and decision-making policies. You will be asked to provide suggestions and rationale to the City Manager for your proposals.
Townscapes city hall, police station, and fire stations were all built in the 1950s during the first building boom when the population soared from 2,000 to 30,000 in less than a decade. These buildings were built prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and have older wiring, and a hot/cold water based air handling system.
Several city employees have developed respiratory problems, coughs, and headaches which have resulted in a loss of time and productivity. The City Manager has called all city council members to identify the various government, private and non-profit agencies that may be potential resources or may be affected by this problem. What remedies do the city employees have to solve this dilemma? What is the citys responsibility in addressing this situation? What remedies can the courts provide?