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updated: 4/6/2011 8:19 PM

Relieved Larson still defends tax stances as good for Schaumburg

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  • Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson discussed his plans and hopes for the next four years Wednesday, a day after voters awarded him his seventh term as the village's chief executive.

       Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson discussed his plans and hopes for the next four years Wednesday, a day after voters awarded him his seventh term as the village's chief executive.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

 
 

Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson looked ahead Wednesday to his seventh term in office, hoping to make it an era of continued improvement despite more challenging economic times.

And unlike Naperville's newly re-elected Mayor George Pradel, the 72-year-old Larson says it's too early and unnecessary to commit to making this term his last.

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"I can't predict what's going to happen or how I'm going to feel," Larson said.

Only hours after his victory was declared, Larson was still recovering from what he said were weeks of uncertainty and doubt.

"It was a great relief when the first precincts came in," he said.

He sees the next four years as a period in which several long-term projects -- like the Town Square TIF district and the payment for Alexian Field -- will come to completion. And he predicts the growth of new business around the convention center and a continuing decline in village's new property tax.

Larson believes the very basis of these improvements could have been dismantled by a victory for challenger Brian Costin.

"How do you eliminate a property tax by eliminating the resources needed to eliminate the property tax?" Larson asked.

A day after his hard-fought re-election campaign ended, Larson continued to criticize his opponent's intention to reduce all of Schaumburg's taxes. The village's long-running model has been to have visitors help foot the bill for residential services through hotel, entertainment and other consumer taxes.

The business community, meanwhile, has an environment in which it can survive and thrive, Larson added.

"Businesses want certainty," he said. "Certainly businesses don't want a disruptive village board."

Larson also questioned Costin's philosophy that government has no role in a healthy business environment.

"When you take the position that property rights rule all, how can you expect a major corporation to invest in the community when they don't know what's going to happen next door?" Larson said.

"I think this election served to educate a lot of Schaumburg residents," he added. "I've explained a lot about what a TIF district is and isn't."

Schaumburg's use of Tax Increment Finance districts -- both at Town Square and around the convention center -- has been a target of Costin's criticism.

But while Costin considers them a distinct property tax, Larson defends TIF districts as an essential tool for funding public improvements without negatively affecting anyone else.

Larson also expects to see business at the convention center improve in line with the economy, and is looking forward to a brand new baseball team starting play at Alexian Field in 2012.

"We're getting a team, a partnership, that really loves baseball, not just the business aspect of it," Larson said.

Costin and the three village board challengers who ran in a loosely formed alliance with him unsuccessfully tested a long-standing grooming process for trustees that involved a period of service on a village committee or commission.

Trustee Frank Kozak was chairman of the plan commission for 20 years before joining the village board, Larson said. Mark Madej was first appointed trustee after regularly attending village board meetings and serving on the Septemberfest Committee.

Larson received a congratulatory phone call Tuesday night from Congressman Mark Kirk, a fellow supporter of the STAR rail line. Larson said he will continue to join with suburban mayors like Arlington Heights' Arlene Mulder to push for the rail line that would serve communities west of O'Hare International Airport, despite concerns about the availability of federal funding.

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