The candidates for Lake County treasurer are veteran politicians who hope to improve an office that isn't familiar to many voters.
David Stolman, a Republican from Buffalo Grove, is a Lake County Board member for 22 years, including two as chairman. He faces Democrat Glenn Ryback, who was appointed to the Wadsworth village board in 1993 and is serving his second term as village president.
The treasurer spot is open with the retirement of Robert Skidmore, who was elected in 1998 but is not seeking a fifth 4-year term.
Stolman won the party nomination by defeating Jeri Atleson, a Fremont Township board member from Mundelein, in the primary this spring. He was to have faced Cynthia Plouche of Highland Park, but she withdrew and was replaced on the ballot in July by Ryback, who lost to Skidmore in 2006.
Stolman is a lawyer but considers the county board his full-time job. He has two years remaining on his term and said he would resign if elected. Ryback, a real estate broker, said he wants to complete his term as village president, which ends in April.
The following information is based on interviews with the candidates and their answers to a Daily Herald questionnaire.
Because the second installment of property tax bills is due Friday, the spotlight briefly is on the office responsible for billing, collecting and distributing real estate taxes to various entities. But that is not the case most of the time.
Stolman said he has been assisting the Lake County assessor's office the past few years with workshops to help taxpayers understand and possibly lower their bills. He suggests a similar outreach program for the treasurer's office.
"One of the things I would like to do is obviously be a little bit more visible," he said.
Stolman also wants to expand the database to include "anything and everything having to do with financials" such as department budgets or tax increment financing districts, for example, "so you can find anything and everything online."
"There needs to be greater explanation so people understand where their tax bills go to," he added.
Stolman, who is on the board of Lake County Partners and advocated for a Route 53 extension, said he would "like to elevate the treasurer's office" and be a spokesman for economic development that he regards as the "key to success in Lake County."
Ryback said there is "room for improvement" in the speed with which tax receipts are dispersed to taxing agencies. For example, he said, banks supply a lump-sum payment for many properties they handle and the treasurer has to split that up to credit individual properties before it's dispersed.
He said that time could be reduced using available technology, diminishing the office's role as a middleman in the process.
Tax collections by state law must be distributed within 30 days. Ryback said late payments can result in taxing bodies having to issue tax anticipation warrants, but he did not have any examples of that happening as a result of a lag by the treasurer's office.
Stolman said warrants are not the result of any procedural problem with the treasurer's office.
As for the office, Ryback advocated having a personal touch to include a liaison "to greet them (visitors) and guide them through the process."
He also said procedures should be evaluated for efficiency and improvements made using employee input and suggestions.