Joseph "Joe" Gottemoller: 2022 candidate for McHenry County Board District 4
Office sought: McHenry County Board District 4
City: Crystal Lake
Occupation: Attorney, self-employed
Previous offices held: Current, McHenry County Board District 3; and former McHenry County Conservation District trustee; Zoning Ad Hoc committee member; and Gravel Task Force member
Q: Describe your position regarding the balance between county spending and revenues as it exists today, then describe the chief threats you see looming in the future and how the county should deal with them.
A: For the past eight years, the county has balanced the budget without raising property taxes. The county annual budget is smaller today than it was in 2012. The county should and will continue to streamline access to government services.
The chief threats actually come from Springfield. The state legislature has increased costs and decreased revenues for the county. Next year's shortfall is estimated at $16 million. Mandated programs such as the elimination of cash bond means every person gets a bond hearing even when it is off-hours.
The courts are faced with adding personnel and building access on extra shifts. These costs are increased but the fee the county used to receive from the bonds is gone. This is a loss of some $200,000 a year.
An entire project pushed upon us by the state legislature without any concern for the ability of local governments to pay for these programs.
Q: Is there a specific service or amenity that is lacking in the county? If so, how do you propose to provide and fund it?
A: We need the to better adjust employees and workload across departments. During the past two and a half years, the health department found itself under a tremendous strain trying to keep the citizens safe from COVID.
Testing facilities, vaccination centers, and nursing home standards all changed and created new demands on the department.
The county has to remain nimble enough to face new challenges yet continue to serve the citizens on a day-to-day basis. The county has received some aid from the federal government to help offset these costs and support the many businesses and individuals who were hardest hit by COVID.
Yet we still need to be prepared the next time we have an imbalance in the demands between departments.
Q: Does there need to be more bipartisanship and cooperation on the county board? If yes, what would you do to help make that happen?
A: Much of what the county does is not about political parties. It is about providing services to the citizens of McHenry County.
Although there are bound to be differences if we focus on the common goals we can and will reach agreement on how to best provide those services.
Q: The COVID pandemic put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?
A: McHenry County has had a mental health board sine the 1970s. The county is far ahead of many other places when it comes to providing services to those who need mental health help.
The county has used some of the federal emergency funds to assist with the mental health demands brought on by the pandemic. However there is much to be done.
Q: What is the single most important issue facing your district and how should the county address it?
A: Taxes are still forcing people out of McHenry County and Illinois. Balancing a budget after Springfield cut a $16 million hole in it is difficult.
However we have to reduce spending to bring it in line with the available budget. We have good department heads who will make suggestions on how best to do it in each department.
The county board is starting this year by reducing its board count by 25% from 24 members to 28 members. That small change saves 250,000 per year. There are 27 departments not all are the same size but we will balance the budget between them.