Kollin Kozlowski: Candidate Profile
Palatine Council, District 5
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Note: Answers provided have not been edited for grammar, misspellings or typos. In some instances, candidate claims that could not be immediately verified have been omitted.
Office sought: Palatine Council, District 5
Family: Married 15 years, 3 Children
Occupation: Manager of Subcontractor Risk Management, Accenture
Education: * Bachelor of Science in Public Administration - Minor in Business Administration, Northern Illinois University, 1993
* Masters of Business Administration, emphasis in Finance, Roosevelt University, 1999
Civic involvement: Lake Louise PTA Member
Past Lake Louise PTA Vice President
Past Palatine Youth Baseball & Softball Board Member
Past U10 Boys Post Season Travel Manager
Past U10 Girls Post Season Travel Manager
Past U12 Girls Full Time Travel Coach
Palatine Amatuer Football Association Board Member
Vice President, PAFA
PAFA Head Coach
Northwest Travelers Board Member
U10 NWT Full Time Travel Baseball Coach
Treasury-Elect, Northwest Travelers
Elected offices held: Candidate did not respond.
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The biggest issue is the tax burden that continues to be pushed down to the residents, whether it's our own Palatine increase in the tax levy, the increase in water rate or increased electric taxes, to school board tax hikes, to County government sales tax increase, or even the mess the state made out of the income tax. We need to take control of our spending as a whole and get it under control. The government does not have an open checkbook and should not treat their residents as a 24hr ATM machine. Instead of raising taxes because everyone else has, let's take a more disciple approach and lead instead of follow.
Key Issue 2
Another big issue we need to confront is the amount of lost businesses within our borders. In the January 2011 Village Commercial Available Property Report, there are 221 units/stores available at 89 different locations. This includes all retail, commercial, and office space. The math on this one is really easy. The more each of these locations generate sales tax revenue for the village, the less the village depends on your property tax income. There are many ready to move in 'big box' locations: Pathman Paints(NW Hwy), Blockbuster(NW Hwy/Quentin), Boston Market(NW Hwy/Quentin), The Look Salon(NW Hwy/Quentin), Menards(Rt 12), Clark Gas Station(Rt 12), Pizza Hut(Rt12), Seasonal Toys R Us (Dundee), and Idols(Rt12/Dundee) just to name a few. And with these locations, it affords a quick turnaround move in, thus creating a quicker revenue source as opposed to new construction where execution can take up to 1-2 years, as demonstrated with the proposed Mariano's grocery store.
Key Issue 3
The under utilization of a shared services agreement with our 'sister' taxing bodies is another issue. This great opportunity is just waiting to be acted now. Within Palatine, there are 3 major taxing bodies: the Village of Palatine, Palatine Park District, and the CCSD 15(school district). With of all that purchasing power (albeit some availability to state contract pricing/bids), the 3 bodies only slightly participate in a shared services approach. From my procurement experience, it would not be uncommon for entities our size to realize double digit percentage decreases in costs if we utilize our purchasing leverage. And that's just in one area. Just think of the time and expenses saved when you have streamlined processes & procedures that hand off issues properly across all three bodies. There is a great untapped opportunity to be shared by all involved. All this could increase services while cutting costs and making Palatine a better place to do business with. And it starts with communicate and a willingness to work together.
Imagine…..Grade school students being able to register for Park District events through their school. The Park District seamlessly able to communicate activities planned needing village traffic help/support, or affiliates & schools being able to communicate to village offices regarding health dept licenses issues for pancake breakfasts/baseball day/homecoming events. The opportunities are endless.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
First and foremost, I will listen to the people of the 5th district. I will listen and be an advocate for the homeowners, condo owners, renters, and businesses. I will take the time to present the Village's 'business at hand' through local town halls and video blogs. The communication aspect with the district is a big issue with me and the former lack of it. I will be the Fresh Voice of Leadership the district is craving for.
Also, with today's current economic market, homeowner dilemmas, employment difficulties, and business hardships – it demands an approach that can only be handled with the most current techniques, education, and work experience to get us back on the correct track. I believe, I posses those skills. My work experience, ranging from a Controller handling a $475M yearly budget, a Strategic Sourcing Manager and a Procurement Manager specializing in supplier selections, a Commercial Director handling the economics and negotiations of multiyear, multimillion dollar deals, and all this within Fortune 50 firms lays much of the ground work and basis to get the job done.
To me, our district is one of the best within the village with its old town charm and history. Much of that comes from the foundation of folks that have been in the district for a longer period, basically our seniors. These are the same seniors that were hit with an increase in electric tax, a water rate increase, and a 3.99% property tax levy increase for this coming year from our village (approved by our current councilman). This is on top of the new property tax alignment which shifts more of the tax burden to residential homes from commercial/business districts. And let's not even bring up the current state tax mess from Springfield. So now, all of those seniors who are on fixed incomes have more to pay. Where are they to find the shortfall? The burden of finding out what to cut back on shifts from the village to those fixed income resident. This is not Leadership to me, it's called passing the buck. We need a Councilman who will stand firm and ensure we find the correct mixture of service levels and spending cuts to protect the tax payer and our community. I will not vote on any budget that increases our Palatine property tax levy.
Given the delicate balance between the need for revenue and over-taxing local businesses, what is your opinion of your community's present level of local sales taxes? Is the tax just right, too low or too high? Explain.
In order to keep business traffic to continue flowing into Palatine, our sales tax portion must be neutral or a zero sum as compared to the surrounding towns. As we all know, that is not currently the case due to the Cook County tax increase over 1 year ago. Our town has been especially hit hard due to proximity to Lake County. I've been told numerous times from Palatine residents that when purchasing larger ticketed items, they will purposely trek across Lake Cook Road to do their business. I do believe and trust that the new President of Cook County is truthful in her desire to rollback the tax increase within the first 2 years. Where there has been some validity to the discussion of creating a new county government, the current economic conditions, the funding necessary, and the current voting process – does not make it an attractive option currently. Instead, we need to work closer with the County President, our County Commissioner and other suburban Commissioners to ensure we are getting the most out of the dollars we contribute and the corresponding services received. We need to move from being a 'donor' participant in the county government to a 'utilizer' of the county services
Talking with your friends and neighbors, what seems to be their biggest public safety concern? Explain the concern as you see it, and discuss how you think it should be addressed.
A concern that everyone seems to have especially during these tough cutback times is the possibility of cutbacks on our police and fire departments. I can assure you that if elected Councilman, these 2 units will have my full support to maintain our best in class service. The backbone of any unit of government it's security and safety its residents receive. This can be addressed through a bottom up approach (highest priorities) instead of a run rate approach of existing budgets. With my past experience as a Controller at a Fortune 50 it suites me well in bringing that expertise to the Council Board from a budgetary standpoint.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed, and conversely, are there areas the budget does not give enough money to?
Firstly, I want to thank our Village Manager and his staff for getting us to where our current budget was sitting before the property tax levy increase. At that decision point, we were roughly $840K short which resulted in the increased property tax. Getting so close to that finish line, I just wish they could have finished stronger. Making tough decisions on budget are not easy, especially when cuts need to go down to an individual level and affect your co-workers through layoff. In my past experience as a Controller of budgets of $450M yearly, the hardest part was looking someone in the eye and telling them that we were going to let them go. At that point, you need to ask yourself what can we do better. Budget cutting is not as simple as looking at a line item and running a red-line through. It consists of truly understanding the purpose of said expense, the resulting benefit of incurring that expense, and what other contingent items hang off that one item. Then and only then can you determine what can be cut.
My approach to analyzing will consist of a disciple I call the "3S's of Spending Priority". This allows a bottom up approach in evaluating a current budget plan and keeps focus our main priorities. They include:
Police & Fire - Priority #1
With a Father who had a long history in law enforcement and an Uncle who was a Company Chief in the Chicago Fire Department, I know what it means to support the individuals who put their lives on the line everyday for all of us. As a priority list for the village, the Police and Fire Departments would rank the highest. We need to ensure both groups have the necessary equipment, attractive compensation, and availability to the best in class training. On this, I will not budge.
Public Works - Priority #2
In the spirit of transparency, I also work seasonally for our Public Works department in snowplowing, and as such, I have a little bias. That being said, our Village's Public Work department is truly the hidden gem of community. Whether it is pothole repairs, emergency tree trimming/forestry activities, drainage/sewer emergencies, street snow plowing, or water system maintenance, this group keeps the village moving smoothly behind the scenes.
Core - Priority #3
As I build on the previous priorities, the village must continue to supply/coordinate core functions for the citizens. This would include our sewer, water, and refuse procurement activities as well as keeping a good relationship with our electric and gas providers
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A great opportunity that can benefit the whole village, whether it's from the kids, to adults, to our seniors is through partnership of the Village, Park District, and Consolidated School District 15 to leverage a Shared Services Platform. There is a great untapped opportunity to be shared by all involved. Whether it's through economies of scale, a streamlined process of interaction, shared IT backbones, and leveraged spend (albeit availability to state contract pricing/bids) all this would increase services to our residents all while cutting costs at each of the levels. For example, with all the purchasing power the 3 bodies hold individually, they only slightly participate in a shared services approach. From my procurement experience, it would not be uncommon for entities our size to realize double digit percentage decreases in costs and overhead. And that's simply one area. Just think of the time and expenses saved with having a streamlined processes & procedures that hand off issues properly between all three bodies. Imagine…..Grade school students able to register for Park District events through their school, the Park District seamlessly able to communicate activities planned which require village traffic help/support, or affiliates and schools able to communicate to village offices regarding health department license issues for pancake breakfasts/baseball day/homecoming events. This is I believe the great area for increased services level and long term decreased expenses.
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