What makes you the best candidate for the job?
Experience. As a lifelong resident of Naperville, a past Planning and Zoning Commissioner and a current City Councilman, I have the history, knowledge and expertise it takes to be a Councilman. With 28 years in the construction field, four years as a Planning and Zoning Commissioner and six years on the City Council, I know how to lead the city’s comprehensive plan process from development to the final project. Our next city council will have several new members. I believe I am uniquely qualified to be the consensus builder who can provide the leadership to integrate new ideas with historical context to ensure a productive council and a more successful Naperville.
What is your opinion of your community’s present level of local sales and property taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
Our local sales tax in Naperville is currently at 7.25%. Purchases made in the downtown area incur an extra 1 1/2 % on food and beverages designed to cover the expenses associated with our parking decks and downtown sidewalk maintenance. In addition, there is a citywide 1% food and beverage tax to support the special event cultural amenities fund (SECA). I find that they are just right because they are very comparable to our surrounding communities.
Regarding property taxes, depending where you live within Naperville, your portion of your tax bill from the City of Naperville can be anywhere from 10-13%. The differences depend on your school district, township, and county. During the last 4 years the city council has reduced the city’s portion of the tax bill by at least $100 for the average household in Naperville. That is a rare feat indeed considering the recent recession. Knock on wood that those difficult days are behind us. In addition, we were able to keep most or all of our essential services provided by the city. I continue to search for a way to once again fund a second brush collection as that is the service the seems to be missed most by residents. Early projections for the fiscal year 2016 budget showed a $12 million deficit. What can the city do to avoid future budget deficits? Where can the city save money or make cuts?
As of the time of this questionnaire the city has reduced the deficit to $6.8 million. We continue to have the mindset to do more with less and stay within our budget. Our biggest expenses will come from bonding our future capital improvement projects. We need to thoroughly consider revisiting our pending future capital improvement projects to ensure they are essential at this time or can be delayed or cancelled permanently. Our city is very near build-out status so our mindset needs to shift to a maintenance mode for future spending. The new development revenue is simply drying up do to the lack of permitting fees and other fees associated with new development. The city can save money by continuing to find efficiencies within our departments throughout the city and continue to partner with other governmental bodies to increase buying power. The city continues to explore ways to save money by finding efficiency’s within the city through technologies which lead to cost savings.
What additional regulations, if any, should the city council impose on bars and liquor license holders to help keep the downtown night life safe? What do you think of the restrictions recently created, such as relating to late-night entry, shot sales, beer sizes, drink specials and security training?
If there are any additional regulations that are needed they should be put on an individual bar and/or restaurant that violate the current regulations. Shutting down or imposing fines will be the best measure to gain compliance to our liquor license laws. The recent restrictions to control patrons have so far proven effective.
What should the city council’s role be in bringing businesses to town? Should businesses be allowed to bring in proposals under code names, such as “Project Panda”? What do you think of the decision to approve the SKF development at Warrenville and Freedom roads before informing the public of what the development would be?
The city works closely with the Naperville Development Partnership. Their mission is to attract and retain quality business for Naperville leading to quality paying jobs and economic growth. By law anyone can come into Naperville and build what they want as long as it’s within the zoning regulations. In regards to the SKF development and other businesses that might have some liabilities if it were known too soon of their plans to expand in other towns or for whatever reason have to have keep some information confidential at times or for limited time until certain parameters are met. This is a private business decision that the city should respect. Though it seldom happens, the SKF development is an example of this practice. Typically, a confidentiality clause is signed by either a representative of Naperville Development Partnership or the City Manager to ensure that what is going on inside the building is not unlawful, but can proceed with their plans until such time when their plans can go public.
What other issues, if any, are important to you as a candidate for this office?
These are the top six issues I will concentrate on if elected as councilman in no particular order.
- The city’s budget and taxes. Keeping a close eye on the bottom line, continuing to be fiscally responsible, and ensuring the best value for services to residents, is the leading issue facing the city in the coming years.2. Public safety throughout the city. Ensuring that our residents are safe throughout our community, whether it be in the downtown area at night or around our schools. Safety has always been a top priority for me.
- Business growth and business retention. Keeping our current local business healthy and attracting new businesses to Naperville, is key to job growth and future revenues.
- Issues facing seniors. Concentrate on finding solutions that effect seniors, especially when it comes to local affordable housing options for seniors looking to downsize their home.
- Development and redevelopment. We should keep a close eye on our master plans and maintain the visions and intent of our plans when striking a balance of each development, and maintain the character of each neighborhood in the process.
- Traffic. Continue to seek solutions to alleviate congestion and work collaboratively with our other governmental bodies as well as our elected officials to find solutions regionally.
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