Kevin Rehberg: Candidate Profile
Carpentersville Village Board (4-year Terms) (Independent)
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.
Office sought: Carpentersville Village Board (4-year Terms)
Family: My wife Regina and I have one daughter named Hailey.
Occupation: Audit Manager for an Auditing firm and Trustee for the Village of Carpentersville
Education: I am a proud product of the District 300 school system, Elgin Community College and Northern Illinois University, where I obtained a Bachelor's of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting.
Civic involvement: GlenEagle Farms Homeowners Association
Elected offices held: Carpentersville Village Trustee (October 2012 present)
Have you ever been arrested for or convicted of a crime? If yes, please explain: No
Key Issue 1
Property Tax Relief Village residents have seen their homes plummet in value while their property tax liability has soared. I believe this is a primary contributing factor to the record number of foreclosures in the area. All taxing bodies that draw from Carpentersville residents (District 300, Village and county governments, etc.) must stop increasing their levies and instead focus on spending cuts and savings. I have already demonstrated my commitment to this in my capacity as Village Trustee by voting against the recent property tax increase. In addition, I am continuously working with Village staff to identify and execute further cost saving measures.
Key Issue 2
Longmeadow Parkway Toll Bridge As it stands right now, this bridge project that will run through Carpentersville appears to be moving forward as a toll bridge. Carpentersville residents need an advocate who strongly opposes this method of project funding. Establishing a toll bridge right in our back yard is an incredibly dangerous and short-sighted precedent for our county board to set. Recently, two new bridges located fairly close to one another were added across the Fox River in the area of South Elgin and St. Charles. Northern Kane county has needed an additional bridge to alleviate traffic for decades, but when two more affluent communities needed them, they got them and without any tolls. A toll bridge in our community would not only unfairly penalize all who use the bridge; it would penalize all other local residents as well. Costs of goods and services using the bridge would rise as those businesses would be forced to pass this added expense along to customers. Businesses in and around Carpentersville would be at a competitive disadvantage thanks to these price increases. Carpentersville residents were forced to pay for the two new bridges that they probably do not use in the form of increased property taxes, yet when we have a need for infrastructure improvements, county officials want us alone to shoulder the lion's share of the costs. Carpentersville needs someone who is not afraid to stand up to county board officials and advocate strongly for the elimination of tolls from this bridge project. Quite frankly, I?m embarrassed as a constituent that this is the best solution that they can come up with.
Key Issue 3
Pension Reform Illinois currently has $100 billion in unfunded debt to five different pension systems. The recent middle class killing 67% state income tax increase is being used almost exclusively to fund that debt, meaning no other government services are being helped by the additional money. The state's bond rating was recently lowered to worst in the nation. The lower the bond rating, the more expensive it becomes to borrow more money. Illinois taxpayers now share the same low bond rating as the African country of Botswana, and the downgrade occurred days before Illinois was set to finance $500 million in new debt. Our politicians have overpromised and underdelivered in exchange for the short-sighted endorsements of public union leaders, who gladly sit on the same side of the bargaining table leaving middle class families with no representation. Ultimately, the blame lies in voter apathy which allows this reckless spending to continue. The pension crisis has also made it virtually impossible for the state's best and brightest college graduates to find employment in the public sector (education in particular) as funding for new jobs has been taken away to pay for this massive debt. Our state needs leadership at every level who understand the severity of this issue and also understand how to tip the scales back toward sustainable government without pulling the rug out from under those who will be retiring soon and are counting on what was promised to them. At this point, the crisis has advanced well beyond the realm of rhetoric and partisanship and has become an issue that cannot be pushed aside any longer. Difficult decisions will need to be made regarding the scaling back of new government employee pension packages and the increasing of current employee retirement contributions and I will not be afraid to advocate for them.
What makes you the best candidate for the job?
This is one question where every candidate will reply with the same response: experience. What separates my qualifications from those of the other candidates is how closely my private sector work experience mirrors the responsibilities of the Village Trustee position. I have held the position of audit manager for an auditing firm for over 8 years and was an auditor for 4 years before that. In my current position, I am responsible for the creation and execution of large and complex budgets which my department and auditors must adhere to throughout the fiscal year. The position also involves the building of relationships with clients and interaction with my company's board of directors, both of which require excellent communication skills. My responsibilities also involve the identification of efficiencies and executing policies which implement them. Beyond the professional experience, I have been a member of the Carpentersville community for my entire life. I have lived in my current home for over 13 years and am a proud product of the District 300 school system, Elgin Community College and Northern Illinois University, where I obtained a bachelor's degree in Business. I have always followed local issues closely and recently decided to take that interest to the next level, when I was unanimously appointed to fill a vacancy on the Village Board in October. This limited time in the position has given me the chance to strengthen professional relationships with village staff and implement some smaller-scale projects that could be concluded by April, when my current term is up, such as helping to develop a plan to re-introduce child car seat checks by village safety officials, increasing the efficiency of online bill payment for water bills that reduces the number of residents who get their water cut off and leading an effort to increase transparency through live-streaming all board meetings over the internet and making past board meetings available to the public 24/7 via streaming from the village website. My experience thus far in the Trustee position has helped me realize that this is the capacity in which I wish to further serve the community for the next four years.
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.
Overall, I feel our local rate of taxation to be exceedingly high and sales taxes are a portion of that. I want Carpentersville's businesses to have every competitive advantage available to them when competing against other establishments for local dollars. That means our sales tax rate must either stay in line or preferably be well below those of surrounding communities. Business taxes and fees are like any other expense; they are passed along directly to the consumer. Price-conscious shoppers go where the best values are. I want that place to be Carpentersville.
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.
I have always felt that Carpentersville makes itself too easy of a target regarding public perception of safety within the village. With the exception of two fairly isolated and small areas, the village is as safe or safer than any other suburban community. Similarly, many people love to finger-wag about the importance of diversity, but when push comes to shove those same people spend tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars extra to live in communities that offer absolutely no diversity whatsoever. Carpentersville residents put their money where their mouths are when it comes to living in a diverse community. The neighborhood I choose to raise my family in is a fantastic community that is virtually free of crime, big or small. We all socialize together, our children grow up together, and some of us even take vacations together. It's time we started projecting this accurate image of Carpentersville and fight back against the lazy and grossly inaccurate stereotypes that have beleaguered this community for far too long.
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?
I do not believe in sacred cow budgeting. Every portion of the village budget must be scrutinized in order to guarantee the most efficient services at the lowest expense. The Village board owes it to the residents to conduct non-biased cost benefit analyses centered around the possibility of regionalizing village services with surrounding communities with the goal of eliminating overlapping expenses without sacrificing safety. The results of these analyses should be presented as referendums where residents can decide for themselves if the benefits outweigh the costs.
What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
I believe that the village should eliminate the vehicle sticker fee. As it stands now, it is essentially an unenforceable fee/scofflaw that unfairly penalizes the residents who have to park on public streets and purchase the unsightly stickers for fear of a ticket. This is an excellent opportunity for Carpentersville to distinguish itself from some surrounding communities who also rely on this outdated and nonsensical method of taxation.