RIchard Dunne: Candidate Profile
Elgin City Council (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.
Office sought: Elgin City Council (4-year Terms)
Family: I have been married 28 years to Judy and we have three daughters.
Occupation: Fire Program Specialist with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Sept. 2012 - current Elgin Fire Department, Oct. 1987 - Sept. 2012
Education: Coursework for Masters in Business Administration, Argosy University, Schaumburg IL Summer 2013 Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies Civic Leadership Academy, 2011, Bachelor of Science, Southern IL University 2005
Civic involvement: United Civic Association Elgin Veteran's Memorial Committee Elgin Veterans of Foreign War, Watch City Post 1307 American Legion, Elgin Post 57 Columbine Homeowners Association Near Westside Neighborhood Association,
Elected offices held: City Council Member, Elgin 2009 - 2013
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Equity for our Citizens All citizens need to receive equitable treatment from the City. Whether it is from our Community Development Group in the city's western development, Code Enforcement, customer service from City Hall or by the Police Department, all citizens deserve to be treated with equity and respect. All of the citizens of Elgin have made an investment in the City of Elgin by choosing to live in our community and need to receive an equitable return on that investment.
Key Issue 2
Safe neighborhoods - All citizens of Elgin must feel safe in their neighborhoods. This is the number one stated strategic goal of the City of Elgin. As a fire fighter for 25 years, I worked intimately in every neighborhood in the City and know very well where the deficiencies in our code enforcement, law enforcement, emergency management and fire service exist. My recent deployment with FEMA to Long Island after hurricane Sandy has provided me with additional first hand experience as to why this strategic goal continues to be vital to the citizens of Elgin.
Key Issue 3
Pride in Elgin - I am proud to call Elgin my home. I have made Elgin my home for over 25 years and have raised three daughters in this community. However it is clear that there is a long-standing image problem to overcome. It's time for our citizens to renew pride in Elgin by building on the strengths of the City, supporting our local businesses, employers, non-profits and other stakeholders, while maintaining a cost effective budget and enforcing the laws, codes and city ordinances to keep our neighborhoods safe, clean and family friendly.
Should the city continue its opposition to allowing video gambling outside the grand Victoria?
I am opposed in principle to government using gambling to balance its budget. I feel that gambling is balancing a budget using the financial losses of others. However, the State of Illinois has made the determination that Illinois is a gambling state. Our job as City Council is now to decide how we are going to best manage gambling within the city. As the communities surrounding Elgin have adopted gambling, it is clear to me that the landscape has changed and we need to assist our businesses and fraternal organizations to stay competitive. The state has made overtures that if the city does not support video gambling, the funding source of the State's last capital bill, that the city would not see any additional funding from that bill. This could mean the loss of potential jobs and financial resources for our citizens. For these reasons I would reluctantly support video gambling. I would prefer to see the city's share of this new revenue allocated to additional property tax relief. However, I do not see support within the council to utilize these funds in that way. I could support the additional revenue to be encumbered into a separate fund to provide relief to the City's non-profits for safety issues and programs.
What is your position on the city's plans to to implement a stormwater utility fee in 2014?
The stormwater problems in Elgin were not caused overnight and will take many years to resolve. I believe this is an issue of equity for the residences that have been suffering for years with flooding issues, some from an antiquated sewer system and some from over development. I support completing the Stormwater Utility Study. Until we know the scope of this problem, having an intelligent discussion of the issues is impossible. While the City is currently funding monies towards stormwater issues within the city, this study will provide data to determine if these funds will be sufficient to resolve all areas of concern. If the city were to have the necessary funds today to address all of its stormwater issues, it would still not be able to complete this project for many years. The scope of this project most likely will be too large to manage over a short period of time and will require a large amount of the city's streets to be under construction. The Stormwater Utility Study will provide the necessary data needed to prioritize needs, plan and budget for this major construction project while being fiscally responsible to the citizens of Elgin. While others on City Council have stated a willingness to increase property taxes to fund this construction, I have worked too hard to lower property taxes to support any increase. My initial support in investigating a possible stormwater fee structure was based on pending Illinois legislation, HB3372 proposed 2/24/11. This bill would allow Kane County to establish a mandatory stormwater fee if a municipality did not have its own fee structure in place. Currently, this legislation has not moved forward in the legislative year and may no longer be relevant to this discussion.
Do you support the city funding the $900,000 overhaul of the Eastside Recreation Center? What do you think of closing Eastside and consolidating operations with The Centre of Elgin?
I have never supported the expenditure of funds to the rehabilitation project of the Eastside Recreation Center. While I am supportive of the mission of the Eastside Recreation Center, I feel that the current building, even after a substantial renovation, will not adequately serve the needs of our community. This plan will not provide equity for the citizens it serves, for this building will never match the amenities available at the Centre. I would be willing to consider the feasibility of consolidating the program into the Centre.
What is your view on the city's recent property tax levying history and imposition of other charges, such as the refuse fee?
Last year, the City of Elgin was facing its own "fiscal cliff". Rather than going over the cliff, the City Council, the Mayor and the City Manager faced this difficult challenge. The City, over the years, had not diversified its sources of income to maintain a steady revenue stream during the recent economic downturn. The 2013 budget reflects this necessary revenue diversification. As a result of our actions, the current Fitch financial bond rating of the City of Elgin is AAA and states that "The city prudently implemented several new revenue sources in 2012 to reduce dependence on property taxes and potentially volatile gaming revenues." Specifically, I felt that the City property tax, at a rate of $1.92 per $1000.00 was too high. Elgin had the second highest tax rate out of 28 comparable cities in Northern Illinois. While I did not support all of the tax measures that were brought forth in the adopted budget, to address the City's crisis, I did support the lowering of property tax rate over the next five years to be below $1.59 per $1000.00. I believe that the citizens of Elgin elected me to work collaboratively with the council to pass a fiscally responsible and balanced budget, unlike the Federal government. I feel that this budget, including the property tax cut and revenue diversification, will make the City fiscally stronger and more competitive for economic development in the long term.
The Elgin Symphony Orchestra wants the city to resume its yearly disbursement of Riverboat funds to the ESO. Do you support this? Why or why not?
I support the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and feel they bring value and pride to the City of Elgin. I believe that the City and ESO should work together to develop an equitable payment plan to address the back debt owed to the citizens. After hearing the presentation given on January 23rd, I am not convinced that further funding from the City is required. I would like to see a detailed business plan from the ESO demonstrating their ability, not only to repay the City, but to provide for future financial stability before considering any future funding from the City.
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