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: East Dundee
Website: Candidate did not respond.
Office sought: East Dundee Village President (4-year Term)
Family: Married, three children
Occupation: Civil Technical Sales
Education: Bachelors in Computer Science, Roosevelt University, 1999
Civic involvement: Immanuel Lutheran Church Worship Aide PK3 - 2nd Grade, Sunday School Story Teller "Shop with a Cop" Volunteer
Elected offices held: Village Trustee, East Dundee, 2001-2005 Village President, East Dundee, 2005-2007 Village President, East Dundee, 2009-2013
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Continue to cultivate additional sources of revenue: Over the past four years, the village has implemented a successful economic development strategy. In short, East Dundee is now competitive when it comes to attracting commercial businesses. As an example, we are now seeing businesses return to our village. These include Thorton?s, Laundry King, East Dundee Express Car Wash, Santa's Village, J.D. Byrider, Made to Measure, Van's Frozen Custard, Tovar Snow Plowing, 7Hills Healthcare Center and more. In many instances, prior to opening, the new business did extensive renovations to an existing empty East Dundee storefront. We have also worked with our neighbors at Max McGraw Wildlife to expand the village limits to bring GAT Guns, Club Premier Banquets and Pampered Pet Services Resort & Spa into East Dundee. As each one of these businesses comes online, East Dundee receives sales tax and other revenues. As a result, East Dundee's financial fortunes have begun to improve at a rate much faster than those of our neighbors. If re-elected, I will continue to pursue an economic development strategy that creates an environment to attract additional businesses and sources of revenue.
Key Issue 2
Remain fiscally responsible: Since 2009, we have taken numerous steps to be as fiscally responsible as possible. When it comes to village staff, we reduced administrative headcount by consolidating the Director of Public works and Building Inspector positions. Where possible we have hired part-time or contract workers rather than full time. Consequently, we reduced operating expenses as well as slowed the growth of police pension obligations. When it comes to services, rather than automatically renewing expiring contracts we requested competitive bids. As a result, we saved thousands across the life of our garbage and electric services contracts. When it comes to equipment we purchase new if necessary andused? where it makes sense. We also save money by sharing equipment and resources with West Dundee. While I am proud of the work that's been done, there is still much to do. With Wal-Mart's plans to move to the Meadowdale Shopping Center in Carpentersville, East Dundee will lose more than $800,000 in revenue. This represents almost 20% of our operating budget. Fortunately, the number of businesses recently added to East Dundee will help to offset this devastating financial blow. If re-elected, I will continue to take a common sense approach to spending and be financially prudent when it comes to all village expenditures.
Key Issue 3
Give back to the residents of East Dundee: In 2009, FEMA revised their flood plain maps which resulted in many residents in the lower part of town having their homes included in the floodplain. As a result, these residents were now required to purchase expensive flood insurance through no fault of their own. The only way to avoid the additional expense was for each homeowner to pay for a survey (LOMA) to prove that flood insurance was not required. At that time, the Village Board responded by creating a program where the Village of East Dundee assisted in offsetting the cost of the individual surveys. By working together, East Dundee and its residents were able to reach a cost effective solution to resolve an issue that would have otherwise had a negative financial impact in the lower part of town. In 2011, the Village of East Dundee supported electric aggregation whereby we were able to bid the village's collective residential electric usage. Consequently, we were able to save participating residents approximately 20% on their electric rates. In 2012, the Village of East Dundee worked with the East Dundee Fire District to secure property for their new fire station on Route 25. As a result of the subsequent referendum to build their new facility, East Dundee will convert the existing fire station facility into a new police facility as well as remodel the existing village hall. In short, East Dundee residents will get the collective benefit of 15 million dollars of improvements (new fire station, new police station and renovated village hall) through a single 5.5 million dollar referendum. As East Dundee's financial situation continues to improve, wherever possible, the residents of East Dundee should continue to share in that success. If re-elected, I will work with the Village Board to give back as much as is possible to the residents of East Dundee.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
I am the fourth generation of my family to call East Dundee home. Like my grandfather William Bartels, I have had the honor and privilege of serving East Dundee as both a village trustee and village president. In total, I have four years of experience as an East Dundee village trustee and six years of experience as East Dundee village president. I also have a twenty five year background in technology and municipal engineering projects. Over the past four years I have worked collectively with the village board and village staff to accomplish some truly remarkable things. These include: 1. Financing and constructing the Village of East Dundee's new water treatment facility. This substantially improved our water supply as well as our water quality. 2. Negotiating an agreement with Max McGraw Wildlife which allowed the village to annex additional commercial properties along Illinois Route 25. This is a project that has been pursued by the village for more than 25 years. 3. Approving the development of the vacant property north of the Dominick's shopping center. Gardiner Place and River Haven Place now occupy what has historically been a very challenging site to develop. 4. Planning for remodeled village hall and police facility. Improvements to both facilities have been goals of the village for more than 20 years. The results speak for themselves. There is no question East Dundee is doing better today than it was four years ago. Having said this, no single person is responsible for the improvements. Instead, it is the result of the collective efforts of everyone involved doing the best job possible for the people of this great village. There is still much more to do. During the next four years we have plans to redevelop the downtown. There will also be additional opportunities to further develop property east of route 25. At the same time we need to cultivate new sources of revenue while also maintaining our aging infrastructure. Along the way we will need to remain financially responsible and efficient when delivering village services. I believe I am the best candidate for village president because I have the experience, I understand the issues and I have a track record of delivering results.
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 lifeblood of a community is the revenue it generates from sales tax. All dollars collected by East Dundee through sales tax help to pay for services that would otherwise be paid for directly by the residents through property taxes or other fees. For example, East Dundee uses sales tax revenue to pay for trash collection rather than passing it on to the residents. In short, sales tax collection ensures that residents as well as non-residents contribute to the payment of municipal services in East Dundee. Our current collective sales tax is 8.5% which is consistent with that of our neighbors in Carpentersville and West Dundee. Hoffman Estates is higher at 9% and Elgin is slightly lower at 8.25%. Knowing this, I believe our present level of sales tax allows East Dundee businesses to remain competitive. As a result, I would say that our sales tax rate is correct.
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 biggest concern I hear from residents is about rental property and its potential impact on the community. When the economy went into a downturn several years ago, unfortunately a number of houses went into foreclosure. As a result, many homes sit vacant and many more have been purchased as an investment and converted to rental property. Because these investors do not necessarily live in our community, there are concerns that these folks are not necessarily aware of our codes and ordinances. In short, there is fear that rental properties have the high potential to fall into disrepair. To address this issue, I would like to see East Dundee implement a rental licensing program similar to what exists in Carpentersville. Essentially, a residential rental property would be registered with the village. In doing so, the village can ensure rental units comply with all building codes, ordinances and minimum standards for occupancy. In addition, investors contact information would be immediately available in the event property maintenance issues became a problem.
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?
We are currently in the beginning stages of crafting next year's budget. Over the past several years, the budget has been pared back and cut wherever possible. We will do the same again this year. Having said this, there are not any large bucket items left to be cut that would not require making substantial changes to village services. Instead, our efforts will be better served to strive to be more productive and efficient using our existing resources. As far as dedicating additional money, I would like to see the village invest in a dedicated IT person. We have reached the point where the demands of the police, public works, building, administration and finance departments require a dedicated resource. Currently, East Dundee uses a resource that is shared among several villages. While this approach has previously served us well, it is currently limiting our ability to be proactive as it relates to efficiency through the use of technology.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I had the opportunity to ride along with the police during a 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift a couple weeks ago. During my ride, the sergeant and I began to discuss challenges police officers face when responding to emergencies. One challenge is not knowing the floor plan of a facility when the police arrive. For example, if an officer arrives on the scene and has been told there is an emergency in the furnace room, they may not know exactly where in the building the furnace room is located. Being familiar with the floor plan in advance would absolutely reduce response time. The sergeant suggested reaching out to all large businesses and school building owners in East Dundee to get a current floor plan layout. The layouts could then be digitized and available to police officers using their in-car computer. As a result, when an officer responds to an emergency they will have the information necessary to get where they are needed in the shortest time possible. I believe the sergeant's idea is a great one and should be pursued by the Village of East Dundee. It will allow our police officers to be even more proactive when it comes to emergencies.