DuPage Dist. 6 candidates: Stormwater fee needs more study
DuPage County Board District 6 candidates Kevin Wiley and Valerie Ann Bruggeman are two of the three candidates seeking their party's nomination in the March 18 primary.
Bev Horne | Staff Photographer
Two of the three Republicans seeking the GOP nomination for a District 6 seat on the DuPage County Board say more research should be done before the board decides whether to implement a countywide stormwater utility fee.
The third has declined to discuss that or any other issue with the Daily Herald.
Kevin Wiley and Valerie Ann Bruggeman, who are in a three-way race with Erica Lynne Sutton of Wayne, agree flooding is a serious problem in DuPage.
But Wiley said during a recent Daily Herald endorsement interview that he doesn't think the issue is addressed with a new state law that gives DuPage the ability to charge property owners a fee to help pay for efforts to control stormwater runoff.
He said officials first need to "take a step back" and determine what caused the flooding problems.
"Once we define how to keep from flooding one another, then we need to go to the revenue side of this equation," the 53-year-old West Chicago resident said. "I don't want to just spend money or throw money at a problem without understanding how we got here."
County officials have said infrastructure improvements are needed. Right now, money for those projects comes from property taxes. Enacting a utility fee would make it possible to have charges for stormwater projects removed from the property tax bill.
Bruggeman said the county needs to determine what impact the fee would have on churches and other tax-exempt entities that would be required to pay it. The 50-year-old West Chicago resident also is concerned about how much the fee could end up costing businesses.
"We want to make DuPage County an attractive place to do it (business)," Bruggeman said. "You want to make sure that we are attractive in terms of economic development. Having those types of fees and taxes placed on businesses to deal with stormwater is something that would need to be evaluated."
If adopted, the proposed utility fee would charge property owners based on use. Those who have more stormwater leaving their land would pay a higher fee. Anyone with land producing less stormwater runoff would pay a lower fee.
While Bruggeman and Wiley shared their views about the stormwater fee and other issues, Sutton didn't respond to a questionnaire or participate in the endorsement interview.
The winner of the March 18 primary will face incumbent county board member Lauren "Laurie" Nowak of Bartlett. Nowak is unopposed in the Democratic primary.
District 6 includes all or parts of Aurora, Bartlett, Bloomingdale, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights, Hanover Park, Naperville, Roselle, St. Charles, Warrenville, Wayne, West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield.
Bruggeman said the district needs a representative who will bring "a common-sense approach" to issues. In addition to being a fiscal conservative, Bruggeman said she would try to lower taxes and work to enhance programs for seniors.
"We need to continue to bring jobs into the county to make sure that it remains a viable place," Bruggeman said.
Wiley, who is a trustee with the Bartlett Fire Protection District, said he would like to see DuPage become "more inviting" for businesses. In addition, he said the county should work with other government entities to deliver services in a more efficient and cost-effective way.
When asked about the future of the county fairgrounds in Wheaton, Bruggeman said she's waiting for a task force to recommend whether the 42-acre site in Wheaton should continue being the location of the DuPage County Fair.
"I think the county board will need to have both public and private input to be able to make a good decision," she said.
Wiley said he believes DuPage voters — not county board members — should get the final say through a referendum question.
"That property belongs to the residents of DuPage County, period," Wiley said. "We should put a proposal on the table, and we should put it to the people and let them decide whether or not it stays there."
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