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updated: 2/28/2011 1:00 PM

Jim Larsen: Candidate Profile

Rolling Meadows Alderman, Ward 7

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  • Candidate information for Jim Larsen, running for Rolling Meadows Alderman, Ward 7

      Candidate information for Jim Larsen, running for Rolling Meadows Alderman, Ward 7

 

 

 

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.

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BioKey IssuesQ&A

 

Bio

City: Rolling Meadows

Website: Candidate did not respond.

Office sought: Rolling Meadows Alderman, Ward 7

Age: 59

Family: Spouse: Debby, Kids: Erin (26), Cassie & Maggie(24), Nolan (22).

Occupation: IT Support Analyst.

Education: B.A., Augustana College, 1973, add'l Studies, Computer Science, Univ. of Iowa, '81-'82.

Civic involvement: City Council Library Board Liaison

Elected offices held: Ward 7 Alderman, Rolling Meadows, 2007-present

Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.

Candidate's Key Issues

Key Issue 1

Continuing to work towards striking a balance between services delivered by the city and the cost of delivering those services. Clearly, nobody wants their taxes increased, yet the cost of delivering services steadily increases from year to year (just like everything else). I favor a measured approach including working with both union and non-union employees to get the most out of our tax dollars, while continuing to deliver the high level of service that Rolling Meadows is known for. In addition, I favor basing city council decisions on empirical data and facts, as opposed to gut feelings, which is why I've advocated surveying surrounding communities and/or residents for more definitive information before reaching decisions. While that may not always be practical or possible, I generally believe that gathering facts provides the best basis for establishing policy.

The questions about privatizing refuse collection and/or fire protection services are good examples of the need for factual information prior to rendering a policy decision. While I believe that as elected officials, council members have an obligation to review the cost of delivering those city services, it's essential to base our conclusions on facts. Until we can do so, I don't believe we can effectively serve the public interest by changing how we deliver those services.

Key Issue 2

The union pension funding obligation is an issue that dovetails into Issue #1. We have a legal obligation to fund the pension funds at given levels, yet we have to remain sensitive to the impact these obligations have on our taxpaying residents. We need to continue to work with the unions and state lawmakers to ensure that the pension funding level requirements are reasonable and sustainable for both the taxpayers and union personnel.

Key Issue 3

Restoring fund balances is critical to the economic well being of the city. Many fund balances have been spent down over the years, and it is critical that we restore those fund balances to ensure we have monies available when needed, as well as to maintain the city's credit rating.

Questions & Answers

What makes you the best candidate for the job?

Candidate did not respond.

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.

My view is that the tax rates are appropriate, the problem is that given the economic downturn the entire country is facing, the overall sales volume has decreased, and sales tax revenue has decreased accordingly. The key to increasing sales tax revenue is to attract businesses to our community that will generate sales activity, which will translate into sales tax revenue for the city.

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.

The biggest public safely concerns I hear folks talking about are related to side street traffic, including speeding and ignoring stop signs. I've talked with the police dept. about this, and they are committed to increased monitoring of these issues, however, it must be recognized that addressing side-street traffic issues requires manpower, so we can ill-afford additional cutbacks in police staffing levels.

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?

In general, departmental budgets are managed effectively, and our department managers and employees are sensitive to how tax dollars are managed and spent. The city council has the primary responsibility for prioritizing how tax dollars are spent. We really need to be clear on differentiating between must-haves and nice-to-haves, and given the economic constraints we face, the nice-to-haves should be set aside, at least for the time being.

I voted against nice-to-haves including maintaining non-union employee healthcare contribution levels at 6-9-12% (I favored increasing those employee contribution levels 10-15-20%), voted against the so-called pet fees funding, and unless I hear very compelling (compelling meaning cost-effective) arguments in favor of reducing refuse pickup fees for seniors and "snowbirds", I will likely vote against those as well.

The must-haves include funding sufficient to maintain first-responder / public safety (RMPD/RMFD) staffing levels, funding for essential city services, including refuse pickup, snow removal, and road maintenance, and providing funding to encourage economic growth. If we can't maintain those services, I don't know that it does anyone any god to worry about the nice-to-haves.

What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?

I can't say that no one else talks about it, but I feel strongly that we need to cultivate an greater sense of volunteerism within the community. The fact is that given the various economic pressures municipalities face, and the finite nature of tax dollars, municipalities can't provide everything every resident might want.

Specifically, I'd like to see a volunteer organization that would take up issues like a farmer's market within the downtown area, or the pet control concerns now being addressed with tax dollars.

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