Jeffrey Halen: Candidate Profile
Lake Zurich Village Board (4-year Terms)
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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.
City: Lake Zurich
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: Lake Zurich Village Board (4-year Terms)
Occupation: Marketing / Product Development
Education: Bachelor of Science in Business Management, Northeastern Illinois University, 1991
Civic involvement: ? Elected to Lake Zurich Board as Trustee in April 2009 Currently Board liaison to Public Works Department Prior Board liaison to Fire and Emergency Rescue Department Prior Board liaison to Finance Department Prior Board liaison to Park and Recreation Department Volunteered at Lake Zurich Park and Recreation Department Arbor Day activities Willow Ponds Subdivision Representative Member of Lake Zurich Chamber of Commerce Member of the first class to complete the Lake Zurich Police Department's Civilian Police Academy Prior member of the Lake Zurich Special Census Outreach Committee Participated in Lake Zurich Downtown Redevelopment Charrette process Prior President of homeowners association prior to moving to Lake Zurich
Elected offices held: Trustee, 2009 - Present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
The Village needs to hire a full-time Economic Development Manager whose focus would be on growing the retail, office, restaurants and industrial businesses and to help the existing businesses continue to flourish. This position didn't exist when I became a Trustee and we worked with staff to have this first as an intern position and then as a part-time employee. Last year, Village Staff proposed to eliminate this position as a budget cut but the Village Board felt so strongly to retain this position that we required it stay in the budget. Lake Zurich needs to be better marketed to bring people and businesses into the community. The marketing efforts should focus on Lake Zurich's strengths and establish Lake Zurich as a desirable place to live, shop and have a business. The Village should explore the creation of a Special Events Committee who would help identify and promote special events to the community.
Key Issue 2
Balanced and Sustainable Budget Since 2009 when I became a Trustee, I made it a priority to review and understand the Village's budget and finances. I?ve been a strong and vocal advocate for the Village to have a balanced budget and work within its means. I?ve supported the Village's financial obligation to fully fund the pensions to the annual required amounts. I?ve recommended revenue collected should be used as intended so those funds are available when needed. I have voted against expenditures which I did not feel were in the best interests of the community. As a Trustee, I will continue the items mentioned above and work with the Village to identify opportunities to increase revenue without putting the sole burden on the community through large tax increases and reduce expenditures while minimizing service disruptions to the community.
Key Issue 3
Infrastructure The Village has long overlooked the need for an improvement plan with its aging infrastructure that included streets, water and sewer. With many of these items well past its intended life, they are failing in many neighborhoods. As a current Trustee, we made it a priority to reinstate the road improvement plan and work towards getting the Village back on a normal cycle of street maintenance. The water and sewer lines still need be addressed as replacement costs continue to escalate. As the Village faces shortfalls in the water and sewer funds, this is a time to make sure the money is being used for its intended purpose.
What is your position on what needs to be done to jump-start downtown redevelopment and how soon does this need to get happen?
The Village needs to make downtown the primary focus and get responsible development, not just any development, started as soon as possible. As a current Trustee, the Village Board adopted the Form Base code as a guideline; as it used to be a requirement, which now provides developers additional flexibility in their designs without sacrificing any of the quality. To further jump-start the development, the Village needs to: 1) Hire a full-time Economic Development Manager. In the past this position was filled by either an intern or part-time employee 2) Focus the development efforts within a wider scope than just across from the promenade.3) Identify developers within a large geographic area that have worked in Chicago area and send out the RFQ/RFP to find a developer who can meet the Village's needs.
What are your views on any kind of financial incentives to attract future development? Do you have any concerns about offering breaks in the wake of those recently received by the developer of Mariano?s?
Financial incentives have become a double edge sword for many communities, including Lake Zurich. They have become a necessity to attract businesses but deprive the Village of anticipated revenue without the incentive. This is similar to when the housing market is in a buyer's market. The seller hopes to get the most for their property but realizes the buyer will be looking to negotiate on some items. If the financial impacts of the incentive are not well calculated, it can be devastating for the Village especially if the revenue is overestimated and was budgeted for services that then need to be cut. With the recent addition of the new Village Administrator/Manager and Finance Director, they have taken a more proactive approach to understand the short and long-term impacts of financial incentives to make sure the projections are realistic, viable and serve a purpose, like to reimburse for public improvements. If this level of scrutiny continues, Lake Zurich should be comfortable knowing how the financial incentive will actually benefit the community and bring more businesses into Lake Zurich.
In these tight economic times, municipal budgets have to be prioritized. Where, if anywhere, could the current budget be trimmed? Conversely, is there something that should be reinstated or have resources directed toward?
Since I became a Trustee in 2009, the Village Board dramatically changed the budget process to publicly better understand the numbers and the financial impacts of the decisions being made. Instead of only a high level review, the Board reviewed the budget details over many meetings/workshops and required the departments to prioritize items which could be eliminated. I have also voted against expenditures that I didn't feel where in the best interests of the community. The Village Board will receive the budget for the next fiscal year (May 1, 2013 - April 30, 2014) in February. Additional opportunities to improve the budget numbers would focus on reducing forecasted expenditures to actual costs, elimination of duplication in expenditures, and continue to identify ways consolidate or improve services. For example, having a centralized purchasing person instead of having every department placing orders would reduce staff time and eliminates waste with extra purchases. Another opportunity, which the Village is reviewing current contracts and determine if they can get a better rate or service for the same cost. An example is the Village reviewed the copier contracts and through and RFP process was able to receive a 50% savings over the previous lease. Lastly, the village should look for opportunities to increase revenue without raising taxes like the dispatch service to Wauconda.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Getting back to basics - Communication. The community needs confidence that the local government can help Lake Zurich thrive and be a place people want to be. This starts with providing information to the community so everyone knows what is happening in town. It is unfortunate that the Village does not provide quality updates on key items of public interest. A place to start improving the communication is at Board meetings where public comments, Board discussions and updates have been limited and discouraged. Even in the Newsline, the Village's newspaper, most articles are recycled from prior editions instead of providing new and relevant updates. As a Trustee, I will encourage more opportunities for the community to get involved. I will continue to speak at Board meetings to provide the community an idea of what is being presented and voted on. I want to ensure the public knows the process and feels the government is being transparent.
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.
Fortunately, Lake Zurich is considered a very safe community and has a low crime rate. Residents have expressed concern with the lack of sidewalks in certain areas, especially high volume areas like near the high school. The Village has also been working with Lake County on a traffic signal in this area for many years and needs to take a more active role with the County, who owns the road, to remove the barriers in getting the light installed.
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