Kevin Burns: Candidate Profile
Geneva Mayor (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: Geneva Mayor (4-year Term)
Family: Daughter, Emma (23) Daughter, Grace (20) Daughter, Florence (19)
Occupation: Development Professional (fundraising for non-profit organizations)
Education: 1978 Graduate of St. Peter School 1982 Graduate of Geneva Community High School 1986 Graduate of Augustana College (B.A. - Political Science & Speech Communications)
Civic involvement: Geneva Library Board Geneva Alderman (1st Ward) 1997-2001 Geneva Mayor 2001-Current Metro West Council of Governments Municipal Mayors Council Kane County Task Force on Fabyan Reutilization Kane County Storm Water Management Committee Kane County Community Development Block Grant Committee Member of Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Regional Coordinating Committee Member, Illinois Governor's Council on Physical Fitness & Sport Recipient of Augustana College'sFinest Under Forty? Award Recipient of Waubonsee Community Colleges'sDistinguished Contributor? Award
Elected offices held: Geneva Library Board Geneva City Council Geneva Mayor
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
My primary responsibility has been, is, and will continue to be, working with the City Council, professional staff and community to develop a balanced budget based on needs and not wants. To allocate limited and sometimes declining resources to support the core mission of the City and to fund programs and services that enhance the quality of life for residents, businesses and guests alike. Since 2001, I have presided over 11 consecutive balanced budgets (and expect to deliver yet another balanced budget for FY 2013-2014), reduced spending by more than 30%, eliminated unnecessary layers of municipal governance, improved efficiency by consolidating committees and improved transparency through technology and accessibility of financial information, processes and procedures. Geneva is proud to have received for three years running the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Bugdtet Award a reflection of our effectiveness and our fidelity to the taxpayers and our commitment to providing quality services at affordable prices. We're very proud of the City's Aa2 Bond Rating.
Key Issue 2
To work collaboratively with local, regional, state and federal officials to identify and embrace opportunities for economic development and redevelopment. One such area of focus will be to work with Kane County officials on a comprehensive redevelopment of the former Kane County Jail site along Fabyan Parkway as well as improvements to the former landfill known as Settler's Hill. This opportunity alone provides our community and all of Kane County a unique chance to turn a more than three-decade liability into an asset for generations to enjoy and benefit from.
Key Issue 3
To work with the more than 1,100 independent, regional and national retailers who call Geneva home and support their efforts through a spirit of cooperation and collaboration via flexible and forward thinking policies. Central to that objective is to continue to work with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce to develop and enhance the series of established festivals and new ones considered. In addition, the expansion of our industrial base is critical to broaden the tax base - the recent adoption of the Southeast Master Plan (for developable land south of Rt. 38 and west of Kirk Road) and the creation of the City of Geneva Economic Development Commission are good examples of harnessing the talents of Geneva business leaders to help recruit, retain and represent our largest employers on issues relevant to their unique needs and expectations.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
First, and foremost, my ability to bring people together and get the job done. My 12 years of experience is punctuated with increased retail development, industrial development, infrastructure improvements, sound management of city resources and taxpayer's money and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing Geneva . In addition, my reputation for being accessible to everyone and anyone regardless of the issue has helped define the customer-centric culture embodied by all city employees. And, while the chief responsibility of mayor is to preside over meetings of the City Council and facilitate the discussions that take place, an equally important role is to represent the community and my tenure as Mayor has included building relationships with our school, park and library community, social service organizations, philanthropic efforts and cultural initiatives. I believe my attention to these areas, among others, proves that while serving as the chief elected officer of the city I have also effectively served as its chief cheerleader.
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.
The City of Geneva's current tax rate is 7.50% In 2007,the citizens of Geneva approved a sales tax increase of .25% by a two-to-one margin and direct the additional revenue for infrastructure improvements. The current rate is appropriate and is unlikely to change. Our citizens' support has provided the chance to make additional investments in our street improvement program (approximately $2,000,000 annually) which helps create a more dynamic business and residential environment. In CY 2012, the city has experienced a 5% growth in sales tax revenues and this positive trend is the result of creative business owners who invest their resources in our community and have come to understand that investing in Geneva yields positive results for them and our 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 sometimes challenge of pedestrians and bicyclists crossing the streets in downtown and Randall Road. Recently, we installed "Yield for Pedestrians in Cross Walk" signs along South Third Street in downtown to help both motorists and pedestrians traverse the downtown. Additional options are being explored to enhance safety along critical intersections along State Route 38 in particular State Street & River Lane; State Street and Second Street and State Street and Fourth Street. We continue to work with law enforcement as well as the Illinois Department of Transportation to determine how best to address these intersections without compromising traffic flow or creating a false sense of security for pedestrians and bicyclists. Along Randall Road, the City is cooperating with the Geneva Park District and Kane County to construct and below grade crossing between Fargo Boulevard and Keslinger Road. This tunnel will allow both pedestrians and bicyclists to cross Randall Road in both directions safely and securely to access neighborhoods and shopping/dining destinations. Of course, the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists requires common-sense practices by both and, the motoring public, to ensure that our community remains safe for all to enjoy.
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?
As stated before, the City's annual budget is developed based on needs and not wants. As a result, the professional staff and City Council have reduced the General Fund budget by more than $3,000,000 in the last four years. Moving forward, the same discipline is being used to identify areas in which programs can be amended to save money while preserving critical resources. The 2013-14 FY Budget is currently being developed and we have already identified savings in such areas as eliminating downtown building lighting programs/expenses and implementing efficiencies in fuel usage by public works, fire and police and a hiring freeze on new non-essential staff. Regrettably, the infrastructure needs of our public utilities never has enough money and, as such, moderate investments must be made annually to address what is and has been a large scale funding challenge. While we will get there eventually, it would be ideal to dedicate enough resources in a couple fiscal years instead of over a much longer period of time.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
Citizen participation is the hallmark of a successful, strong and vibrant community. In addition to the program I started 12 years ago called Art for All at City Hall recognizing student artists for their creative talents I am working on a new venture to invite residents to participate in a neighborhood art program that will not only bring together neighbors but help add a little whimsy to our community. The plan is in its infant stages and still needs some refining but I hope to unveil it later this spring. Through this program, I envision all corners of Geneva lending their talents to help make their respective neighborhoods as unique as the people who live there and contribute to the overall spirit of volunteerism and community pride that has defined Geneva for 178 years.
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