Nick Sauer: Candidate Profile
Lake County board District 17 (Republican)
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: Lake Barrington
Office sought: Lake County board District 17
Occupation: Partner in a small, family-run business specializing in sales, marketing and design of manufactured goods.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy and History, University of Denver, 2005 Masters of Public Policy and Administration, Northwestern University, graduating Spring of 2012.
Civic involvement: Chairman of Say YES! to Youth Success: Barrington Barrington Lions Club Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce Citizens for Conservation We Do Care - Military Support Organization Barrington Area 4th of July Parade Committee Volunteer with Royal Family Kids Camps for Foster Children Cuba Township Republican Precinct Committeeman Barrington Community Unit School District 220 Strategic Planning Group
Elected offices held: Member of the Board of Education, Barrington Community Unit School District 220, 2009-present Secretary, Barrington Community Unit School District 220 Board of Education, 2011-present
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No.
Key Issue 1
Foster job creation and economic improvements through pro-growth county policies.
Key Issue 2
Reduce county spending, taxes and debt.
Key Issue 3
Protect the open spaces, water availability and natural resources that make our area of Lake County so unique.
The county remains in the black, but property taxes across the region are high. Should programs be cut to save taxpayers money? If so, which ones and why?
As a School Board Member and small businessman during these tough economic times, I have had a unique vantage point regarding budget cuts. I understand the strain and difficulties our taxpayers have been going through as well as the need for government to cut spending and maintain a balanced budget. Home values seem to be continuously sliding downward while property taxes increase. Government expenditures need to be tightened, services reviewed, and efficiencies increased to lessen the tax burden.
It is worth noting that school districts like mine make up the vast majority of a property tax bill (roughly 68%). Lake County receives 7% of a property owner's tax bill and the county forest preserve district, another 3%. Other taxing bodies such as libraries, parks, fire districts and municipalities make up the remainder.
During the past three years I have worked with my fellow board members on the Barrington 220 Board of Education to analyze programs, staffing levels, facility usage and proposed budget reductions presented by our administrators. We have been able to trim roughly $6 million, while maintaining a balanced budget and quality educational results. I would support a similar practice for Lake County.
An area of the county budget worth review and analysis by the County Board and administrators is the Lake County Health Department. The department employs roughly one third of all county employees with 887 full and part time staff members. Employee salaries, benefits and retirement programs make up the overwhelming majority of county expenditures in that department. Any segment of an operation responsible for this level of cost must be carefully examined and consistently reviewed. I believe finding ways to streamline personnel; their responsibilities and programs within the County Health Department could potentially represent significant cost savings for the taxpayers.
Additionally, consolidation of department offices may present longterm cost reductions for the county and additional savings for taxpayers. In 2011, Cook County Board Member John Fritchey advocated for a future countywide referendum, where voters could approve of consolidating the offices of Recorder of Deeds and Clerk. I would support something similar for Lake County in the years to come. Improvements in technology, data collection and communication may allow for consolidation of these two countywide offices.
What should be done with the Fort Sheridan golf course? If no building or management proposals come back from vendors, do you propose abandoning golf? If so, are you concerned about a lawsuit? If you propose building a course, how should it be funded?
Just this week the deadline for bids to potentially develop the golf course at Fort Sheridan came and went with no bids returned. Given the economy and the golf industry's depressed state, this should come as little surprise.
I believe the property at Fort Sheridan is of real value for the residents in the community surrounding the property as well as the entire county. This unique former Army base land along Lake Michigan has already gone through some county supported restoration and is protected as a forest preserve. Abandoning the property in my opinion would be a waste.
Water front golf courses on Lake Michigan are extremely rare and very special. Whistling Straights in Wisconsin is an example. That course attracts golf enthusiasts from around the nation and world, hosts major championships and generates millions of dollars for local businesses. Fort Sheridan has the potential to be Lake County's Whistling Straights. Working with the community in future years, the development of the Fort Sheridan course could create jobs, enhance the area, improve tourism and be a revenue producer for Lake County. Two county golf courses, Thunder Hawk and Countryside, are operated, maintained and improved without any taxpayer dollars relying solely on user fees for all expenses.
Adhering to the agreement made between the county and the Army to develop Fort Sheridan as a golf course is still something I would pursue, however not until the economy recuperates and the golf industry is back on track. I would support maintaining the property as it is and pursuing a world class golf design when the economy recovers.
The Winchester House nursing home recently was turned over to a private company for operation. Should other county or forest district departments be privatized to save taxpayers money? Please explain.
Saving taxpayer dollars as well as working to find ways to enhance our private sector economy are high on my priority list, however, jumping to privatized services can be a short term gain and a long term loss. Chicago's parking meter fiasco comes immediately to mind. Before making any such recommendation I would want to examine the efficacy of each department. Are they operating at a cost competitive with or better than the private sector? Can a department's services be expanded beyond the county to serve local municipalities, lowering their costs and thus be converted from an expenditure to a revenue source? Can staff production be enhanced by cross over duties with other departments' or, is the department simply overstaffed, over budgeted and in need of repair or replacement? Lake County's balanced budget hasn't happened by accident.
The departments and personnel do a great job and I believe I can work with them and the next County Board to pursue new ideas and new actions to improve the taxpayer's "bang per buck."
Is there a specific type of service or amenity that is lacking in your district? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund that?
Traffic congestion, the amount of time commuters spend in transit and the lack of North/South highways in Western Lake County are major issues that District 17 residents are far too familiar with. The voters overwhelmingly voiced their support for expanding Route 53 in an advisory referendum in 2009.
I concur with their position.
In the past, this project has been postponed or prevented due to community objections, environmental concerns and funding questions. Recently a blue ribbon commission headed by the county board chairman and a former leading opponent to 53's expansion has been formed. I have attended many of these meetings and observed a collaborative atmosphere between environmental advocates, business leaders, transportation experts and municipal officials examining the matter.
The commission is still working on design ideas and funding scenarios, but the involvement of the Illinois Tollway Authority, who has partnered with the blue ribbon commission, indicates that the project could be funded through tolls collected by the existing Illinois Tollway system.
Should the county continue to pursue open space policies' Why or why not?
Yes, the voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum in 2008 to issue bonds to purchase land. Abiding by the consent of the governed is important to me and for the County Board. The reality is that District 17 is blessed with distinctive rolling hills, lakes and streams that have merited the population growth and home development we have seen over the past decades. Our open spaces, the animals and vegetation they hold and their topographical characteristics are a big part of why people want to live here.
It is also a fact that a major portion of our population relies on well water.
It is imperative that we maintain open spaces, particularly in aquifer recharge areas, so that the families of today and tomorrow have abundant fresh water.
Carefully maintaining the blessings of nature is in all of our best interests.