Kane County jobs and finances are at the forefront of Democrat Brian Dahl's decision to run for the District 6 county board seat after being named to fill the seat in July 2015. In his first time as a candidate, Dahl said it may be time to consider thawing the county's frozen tax levy.
His thinking comes as Kane County wrestles with a $5.7 million budget deficit for 2017. The deficit stems mainly from new spending requests from the sheriff, state's attorney, public defender and court services department. All those requests come with the justification of being necessary to ensure the safety of residents and justice for people involved with the legal system.
Dahl said shrinking the deficit probably means none of the departments asking for more money will get everything they want. He also wants to see evidence that every department is making the best effort to seek outside grants and charging appropriate user fees. But, Dahl said, user fees have limits.
"I would rather see fees than raise taxes on the residents," Dahl said. "But if you create a user fee that someone cannot pay, what's the point?"
If reducing requests for new spending, fees and grants aren't enough to the 2017 budget gap, Dahl said he is open to ending the county's property tax levy freeze.
"My position is to try to do everything possible not to raise that tax levy," Dahl said. "Having a freeze for five years is great to say. But I don't know how much longer you can go that way without each of these different offices not being able to provide the right resources that they are going to need."
Dahl is open to unfreezing the levy only to the extent that new construction is factored in. Doing that would only reap about $1 million in additional tax income for the county, according to county board Chairman Chris Lauzen. The county board must have the final 2017 budget in place, including any vote to increase the property tax levy, by the end of November.
Dahl faces Republican Donald Baltzer on the November ballot. Numerous attempts to contact Baltzer have been unsuccessful.