Richard Johnson: Candidate Profile
Bensenville Village President (4-year Term)
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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.
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Bensenville Village President (4-year Term)
Family: Married to Patty, Two Children, Jennifer and Tracy
Education: Candidate did not respond.
Civic involvement: Past President Bensenville Chamber of Commerce Past Vice President of the Bensenville Kiwanis
Elected offices held: 2 term Bensenville Park District Commissioner 2001 - Present Vice President
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: Candidate did not respond.
Key Issue 1
Village Debt and Taxes: The current administration has failed the residents of Bensenville by not securing replacement taxes with the settlement of O?Hare. Contributing to Bensenville as the 8th highest tax rate in Dupage County with a tax rate of 8.15. That's an increase of 12.7 percent from 2010. As stated in the 2012 Village budgetOur loss of 665 residents and 110 businesses resulting from the O?Hare Modernization Program continue to have an impact on the Villages available revenue streams?. The Village debt in April 2007 - 84.3 Million, April 2009 - 77.2 Million and December 2011 - 84.1 Million. The current administration said in their 2009 campaign literatureOur seniors will benefit from less Village debt and a lower tax rate?. The Village debt and tax rate continues to climb.
Key Issue 2
Development: Inspection and permit services continue to be a problem for businesses and residents. I believe businesses and residents want to comply, they may need additional assistance and the knowledge on how to comply. Granting of variances is not consistent and leads to confusion of the process. There is a lack of growth in the Equalized Assessed Value compared to other communities surrounding Bensenville. Incentives must be considered in order for Bensenville to compete and establish itself as a major business and corporate center. Yes we can welcome freight forwarders but we should also recruit their corporate offices. We need aggressive recruiting of new businesses and the creation of incentives for relocation needs to be a top priority.
Key Issue 3
Housing and Home Value: Vacant homes and home value will be one of my top priorities. The Addison Township Assessor confirms that the Village is facing the steepest loss in value in the township. Residential values will decline on average more than fifteen percent. Adding to the problem of decreased property tax revenue. Reintroduce a revamped resident friendly home improvement grant program to address life safety issues.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
2 terms (12 years) serving as a Bensenville Park District Commissioner. Controlling the district's debt, administrative salaries and numerous improvements such as the development and restoration of Fischer Farm, renovation of the water park and new splash pad, renovation and new playground equipment at various neighborhood parks. Knowing the concerns of businesses as Past President of the Bensenville Chamber of Commerce. Reviving an organization from fewer than 20 members to over 100.
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.
Bensenville's tax rate of 8.25 is competitive with the surrounding communities. I support leaving the rate at the present level. If you raise taxes there is a point at which tax rates become counterproductive. Higher tax rates will slow economic growth. We can't tax our way out of our problems.
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.
Vacant homes are a huge concern of my neighbors and myself. Not only as a public safety concern but as they effect our property values as well. Vacant houses lead to increased crime rates, including illegal activity and trash-dumping. Vacant homes can be more than just an eye sore; they have substantial negative impacts on the community, impacts that are felt most acutely by the neighbors that must cope with the dangers and costs of vacant homes.
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?
The compensation package for the village manager and department heads are too high. All non-essential contracts should be reviewed and cost analyzed. Aggressively explore shared services with neighboring communities. Review cut programs such as mentor band and basic English classes. Just cutting the program is the easy thing to do. We need to find alternative revenue to support them.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Habitat for Bensenville: Work with the Banks and lenders to fix or update properties to sell or rent. This will help stabilize our community, raise home values and take advantage of the new Schools in Bensenville. Statistics from the American Housing Survey show that properties that have been vacant for longer than two years are much more likely to have severe problems, such as cracked floors or walls, broken or boarded up windows, and a roof or foundation in disrepair, that make these properties harder to rehabilitate and less appealing to prospective buyers.
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