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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: Kane County board District 23
Family: Married to Ray Auger. Two adult children.
Occupation: Attorney Transactional practice including Estate planning and Real Estate
Education: Juris Doctorate, Northern Illinois University, 1983 Bachelors of Science, Northern Illinois University, 1978
Civic involvement: Algonquin Planning and Zoning, Chairperson, 1999-2010 Algonquin Plan Commission, 1997-1999 Algonquin Economic Development Commission, 1992-1997 Kane County Bar Association Willow Creek Good Sense Ministry
Elected offices held: Kane County Board, District #23
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Fiscal Responsibility -
As your representative on the Kane County Board my primary duty is to ensure that your tax dollars are utilized in the most effective manner.
This past year the County Board has maintained a flat levy, continued to have strong financial reserves, and conservative financial management.
Departments have been reorganized to become more cost efficient. I will continue to look for efficiency improvements and partnering with other entities.
By law, the Kane County Budget needs to be balanced on an annual basis.
Kane County has earned an AA+ bond rating by Standard and Poor's.
The County places a high level of importance on its bond rating and financial position so that when needed, we can borrow money at a lower rate and maintain fiscal responsibility.
The Kane County Forest Preserve District's bond rating was also elevated to an AA+ by Standard and Poor's this past year. This allowed the District to borrow at a lower rate when purchasing additional properties for the Forest Preserve District as approved by the voters of Kane County in 2010.
The County Board continues to look at new ways to steward the taxpayers' money. Working with other counties or municipalities to combine services can create a government that is more cost effective. For example, the Kane County Board recently authorized an Intergovernmental Agreement with DuPage County to provide Juvenile Justice Services at our juvenile facility. And the Forest Preserve District is exploring a partnership with a local non- for- profit group to add multi purpose trails in Raceway Woods Forest Preserve.
Key Issue 2
Economic Development & Transportation -
Economic growth and business development is key to the future of Kane County.
We need to establish a position for an Economic Development leader in the County. To promote job growth in our community we need to partner with the municipalities and encourage businesses to locate within our borders. Partnering with the local colleges could provide training and education that residents need for these jobs. We need to encourage manufacturing companies to locate in Kane County.
Some logical locations would be off the I-90 or the I-88 corridor. Economic Development can occur when you have the necessary transportation infrastructures in place.
Transportation is multi-jurisdictional.
Kane County must continue to work with surrounding municipalities, townships, counties, and the State of Illinois to provide long term intergovernmental planning. Planning should include roads, bridges, public transportation, bike paths, car pools and future considerations for alternate fuel automobiles. We need to proceed forward with the Longmeadow Parkway/Bolz Road Bridge in the northern portion of Kane County. We need to look at various sources of funding for this project. Some sources include the State and Local Motor Fuel Tax revenues, possible Federal Funding, the Transportation Sales Tax funds that were set up for transit capital projects designed to reduce congestion and improve mobility, as well as the toll bridge option. Phase 1 engineering continues and should be completed in 2012.
Phase II engineering is planned during in 2012-2013. We need to continue to work with the local municipalities and IDOT to create the necessary Intergovernmental Agreements.
Public transportation needs to improve and expand to minimize congestion and provide transportation options to the residents. Currently, Kane County is considering a Bus Rapid Transit System for the Randall Road and Orchard Road corridor system.
This system could provide Kane County with congestion mitigation and economic development as businesses prefer to locate in areas supported by public transportation.
Key Issue 3
Quality of Life Issue- Water Supply Planning-
Many of us moved to Kane County because of the quality of life that exists here including the open space, active and passive green space, the Fox River and our water supplies from ground water or the Fox River.
We have a responsibility to preserve, maintain, and steward our natural resources in this area for future generations. While we have a responsibility to future generations, our natural resources also gives Kane County a competitive edge for attracting businesses and people who desire to make Kane County their home.
In particular, we need to preserve and protect the quality and quantity of our ground water and surface water.
We are not able to get water from Lake Michigan. Most of our water comes from local wells or the Fox River. The depletion of groundwater is a concern that we must address now. While growth has slowed over the last few years, the Illinois State Water Survey indicated that with the current population growth trend through the year 2049, the associated water demand increase will cause critical water supply issues in the deep aquifers, shallow aquifers and surface water supplies. Further, according to the Regional Water Supply Planning Group, without improved conservation and water resource management, significant water shortages could result due to the continued growth of our region.
Currently I am the alternate for Kane County on the Northwest Water Planning Alliance.
I work to protect the quality of ground water, foster intergovernmental communications for water conservation as well as promote water conservation in the private sector. Individuals, governments, businesses and developers should participate in water conservation techniques. The availability of clean water for future residential and commercial use is critical.
Do you support a more stringent ethics ordinance for Kane County governing the conduct of elected officials and county employees? Why or why not? If so, what should the ordinance contain?
I support an Ethics Ordinance with full disclosure that is enforceable under the Illinois Election Code.
The Kane County Board is amending and restating the current Ethics Ordinance because it was found unenforceable by the States Attorneys Office.
The Ethics Ordinance should strife to exceed the provisions that are covered in the Illinois Election Code to the extent that it does not conflict with State law.
However, an Ethics Ordinance cannot exceed the county board's regulatory authority and dictate standards on elected officials outside of the County Board.
There are other processes in place that ensure ethical behavior and transparency. All elected and appointed officials are required to file a written Statement of Economic Interests. Also by law, we are required to file financial reports concerning contributions, receipts and expenditures in election campaigns. This information is filed with the County Clerk and can be inspected by anyone on-line or in person.
Kane County's website is rated A+ and among the best in the State for transparency and proactive disclosure in government by the Sunshine Review, a non profit site, that monitors and evaluates governmental information.
Also, Kane County is currently in the process of its annual audit by an outside CPA firm which looks for any misstatements or risks of fraud.
I will continue to be vigilant for any unethical behaviors within the county.
As a member of the County Board I will do my best to exceed the ethical standards required by law.
The county's portion of gambling proceeds has been decreasing every year for several years. What is your plan to prioritize use of that money? What might be done to wean the agencies and programs that receive this money off of it?
The Kane County Riverboat Fund Program was created by a 1997 agreement between Kane County and the Grand Victoria Foundation and authorized by resolution.
The Resolution provides the guidelines for funding different programs. The priorities are Education, Environment and Economic Development.
I would support the use of available money in the following priority order: projects that promote economic and community development, projects that enhance education and training programs, and projects that address environmental issues.
Annually, the Riverboat Subcommittee prioritizes and recommends grant requests to the board. In 2011, approximately four million dollars went to supplement Kane County Department budgets to offset any tax increases to the residents.
Kane County Departmental projects include projects such as a cost share drainage program in the Water Resources Department,
Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center projects in the States Attorney Office, or Kane Kares in the Health department. Approximately one million dollars was awarded to external grant applicants for local organizations that support the needs of the community.
If the gambling funds continue to decrease, all internal and external project awards must be reduced. Projects must be reassessed yearly and funding awards will need to be decreased by the percentage that the gambling proceeds decrease from year to year. If the riverboat funding declines too much, external grants will have to be reduced at a far greater rate or eliminated. Internal departments will need to look for efficiencies and prioritize their grant requests.
Do you believe the Kane County court system needs a computer system upgrade that might cost as much as $12.6 million? If so, do you support using RTA sales tax money to fund the cost, or do you have a different plan? If not, what is your alternative plan?
The current Case Management System dates back to the early 2000's.
The current system is considered an antique in the technology world.
There are more advanced case management systems available today that cost less, are more powerful and cost efficient.
This would be a capital improvement that needs to be viewed as an investment.
I would be interested in investing in an updated Case Management System. I support taking the next steps to have the new Technology Commission research what systems are available, what type of system is best suited for Kane County and the costs associated with the system. At that point an informed decision can be made.
A new system could reduce county expenses by automating services to the residents who use the court system.
Anyone involved with a court case should be able to access the system and obtain information related to the status of a court case, fines to be paid, and court dates.
A new system would be more cost efficient to all departments that use the system. Currently each department has to input data related to every arrest or legal case. This results in duplicate efforts and is costly to the county. With an updated and integrated system, the basic data can be input once and available to the various departments including the Sheriffs office, the Judiciary system, the States Attorneys office and the Defense Attorneys office. An updated system would allow reports and statistics to be generated to assist each department in an ongoing effort to reduce costs.
The new system needs to meet the needs of the current demand as well as the ability to meet future demands of the judicial system and the Sheriff's office and save the taxpayers money.
The mass transit sales tax money earmarked for capital projects relating to the promotion of public safety would be one source of revenue for the computer system; however, only 15% of the money collected can be used for public safety capital expenses.
If funds are available from the transportation sales tax, those funds should be considered as well.
Do you believe county board members and the chairman should receive health insurance and pension benefits' If you are running for one of those positions, do you plan on accepting those benefits' Why or why not?
As a part-time Kane County Board Member, I do not take the health insurance benefit and do not plan to take the health insurance benefit if re-elected.
The County should strive to provide full time employees health and retirement benefits that are competitive with other similar positions in surrounding counties.
A part time elected official should not necessarily receive the same benefits as a full time employed person.
Health insurance benefits should and do require a payment of a premium as a financial contribution by the employee.
Kane County elected officials are part of the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. To collect from the IMRF, a government employee has to be vested.
It takes eight year to be vested if employed before December 30, 2010 and ten years to be vested if employed after January 1, 2011.
Any pension collected is based upon years of service and pay rate. I think the IMRF system as it stands today is not sustainable.
I would like to see pension reform and encourage the State of Illinois to restructure the system into a 401 (k) type of retirement investment where any employee can contribute a portion of their earnings and the governmental entity would match a portion of what the employee contributed.
I would also like to see the federal government change the IRA laws so that individuals can save more than the $5000.00 a year thus providing alternate retirement options to government workers.
If federal and state laws are challenged and changed, the problems with today's pension system would be eliminated and governmental employees would have retirement investment options.
How do you resolve the ongoing debate over the county board setting budgets for departments run by other elected officials whom the county board has no control over? How should the county board enforce the budgets it sets'
The Seyller v Kane County law suit was not fully litigated so the ongoing debate is not legally resolved. Under Illinois Law, Counties are prohibited from interfering with the internal control of any elected officials office. Counties are restricted to providing lump sum appropriations through the annual budget appropriation process. Since each elected official's office is a separate and distinct office with its own internal controls it cannot be subject to direct supervision by the County Board.
A more refined budget process and continuing open communication are steps towards resolving the debate over budget control. The Settlement Agreement of the Seyler v Kane County case states that both parties agree that a more formalized budget process will foster better communication and clarity.
It is contemplated with this more formalized budget process,
the elected official is required to respond to reasonable inquiries of the County Board.
The current budget process requires that all departments submit an annual budget to the County Board for review. This past year, the County Board asked each department to attempt to keep its budget flat. The County Board and elected officials need to continue to collaborate to improve transparency which will lead to a better understanding of budget requests.
Although the County Board approves each department's budget, under the County Code, the County Board has no control over how the monies are used or spent by elected officials and their departments.
To enforce the budgets that are set, the County Board reviews each department's revenues and expenses on a monthly basis.
By monitoring what percentage of the budget is spent, the lines of communication are kept open.
Although the County Board cannot legally dictate how the money is spent, it can encourage each elected official's department to live within its means. However, it is prudent and important that the county board set aside funds for emergencies in its contingency fund to deal with unexpected expenditures.
This ongoing debate is a form of checks and balances in government.