Mundelein mayoral candidates talk financial outlook, possible cuts
Two of Mundelein's mayoral candidates said cuts to services or staff salaries may be needed if the General Assembly freezes property taxes or reduces the local share of state revenue.
The third contender said Mundelein is financially resilient and can endure funding reductions without implementing payroll or service cuts.
Incumbent Mayor Steve Lentz is facing challenges from Trustee Holly Kim and local business owner Ray Ladewig in the April 4 election.
The candidates talked about the threat of state funding cuts and other issues with the Daily Herald.
Lentz, who was elected mayor in 2013, said Mundelein's status as a home-rule community gives the village flexibility to increase fees or taxes if needed.
Service cuts also could be a possibility, he said, but officials already made cuts after the 2008 financial crisis that has the town operating "at a lean and mean level."
Any additional cuts "would be tough choices," Lentz said, but they might need to be explored.
Ladewig opposed reducing services if revenue from the state is reduced. He said he'd rather see employees' pay cut, and suggested furloughs as a money-saving option.
"If (employees) want to bail ... then let them go, and maybe we'll save some money through attrition," said Ladewig, a former planning and zoning commissioner.
Ladewig didn't know if pay cuts would be big enough to offset any revenue losses.
"But gosh, it's a start," he said.
Kim, who was elected to the village board in 2013, is more optimistic about the village's ability to cope with state cuts.
She proudly said the village board didn't raise the annual tax levy for five straight years before agreeing to do so this past December.
"If we were able to do it then, I think we're good to weather it now," she said.
If state funding is reduced, Kim said, village hall could save money by cross training employees or finding ways to better use technology, such as using electronic payment services instead of mailing paper bills to residents.
That could save "tens of thousands" of dollars annually in postage and staff time, she said.
Kim also suggested renting out underused equipment to other towns and selling advertising space on village vehicles or property, such as on a water tower, to raise cash.
"If it makes sense and there's a mutual mission, let's talk," she said.