David Stolman: Candidate profile
Name: David Stolman
Office sought: Lake County Treasurer
Occupation: Lake County Treasurer
Education: Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Illinois and Juris Doctor from DePaul University Law School
Civic involvement: Lake County Board Chairman (2010-2012), Lake County Board Member & Lake County Forest Preserve Commissioner (1992-2014)
Elected offices held: Lake County Board Chairman (2010-2012), Lake County Board Member & Lake County Forest Preserve Commissioner (1992-2014), Lake County Treasurer (2014-Present)
Questions & Answers
Question 1: If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the board and what would your priority be?
I am doing my part to help lower the public's taxes by cutting spending and increasing the returns on Lake County's investments.
I successfully reduced our budget and cut spending by modernizing and improving technology in the office and streamlining operations to achieve efficiencies, offsetting many costs that continue to rise naturally. In fact, I've reduced my office's headcount from 17 to 15 employees since taking office without negatively impacting services.
We pioneered an agreement with our bank so that all tax payments can be sent directly to their lock box facility for processing and immediate deposit at no added cost, which saves taxpayer dollars by eliminating hundreds of hours of labor.
To serve as an example of fiscal responsibility, I pay for all my own expenses, not submitting them to the county for reimbursement. I don't take taxpayer-funded trips. While I celebrate my team, I show my appreciation for their hard work with my personal funds rather than using taxpayer dollars.
My office has also successfully increased the earnings the county receives from our investments, making money for the taxpayers. We developed a comprehensive investment strategy that safeguards the taxpayers' money, allows for the necessary liquidity, supports our local banks, and maximizes our returns. Our efforts have resulted in millions of dollars in earnings for the county.
If honored to serve for one final term, I promise to continue to be efficient with the public's tax dollars so that Lake County remains an oasis of fiscal sanity in Illinois.
Question 2: Is there a particular issue that motivates you?
Lake County's property taxes are among the highest in the entire country. As Treasurer, I am working to increase transparency in order to equip and support our residents in their fight for lower property taxes.
When I took office, I immediately increased the transparency and accuracy of the tax bills we send to our residents and included TIF districts for the first time. I also worked to improve our website, providing more transparency and making it easier to find information. I supplied explanations online for every item on each tax bill, including percentages and why the bill went up or down.
In addition, I help educate the public on how taxes are determined, the process for creating tax bills, and how taxes are distributed. I included a letter with each tax bill giving information on how to receive an exemption or file an assessment appeal. I even provide contact information for their taxing bodies to help make it easier for them to contact them.
These added layers of transparency help the public know exactly where their tax dollars are being spent and allow them to hold those units of government responsible for how they spend their hard-earned tax dollars.
Question 3: The treasurer's office has a relatively low-profile. How would improve the visibility and/or make residents more aware of what you do?
I will continue to be visible to the public and fully-accessible, something I prioritize as I spend as much time at the counter as possible during the day and then spend my evenings and weekends traveling throughout the county to communicate with the public directly at events and forums. I regularly communicate with the public through email, social media, and my website, and am active on Facebook, answering people's questions and posting videos of the various speaking engagements I attend answering residents' questions.
My team has been innovative in their approach to increasing the level of service we provide to the public while staying within our reduced budget. We cross-trained all our staff and instituted a culture of customer service, ensuring that every person who comes into our office receives the highest-possible level of service. We improved our website to make it more user-friendly, easier to navigate, and more convenient to make tax payments with expanded payment options.
We developed an app that allows taxpayers to look up their address, bill information, and taxing bodies directly from your smartphone, and we are working to implement new software programs, in coordination with the county, to further improve and streamline services.
Moving forward, my team will continue to seek out ways to improve the services we provide Lake County taxpayers, because we know that we work for them.
Question 4: How do you assess the success of the treasurer's office?
We measure our success by how much we have increased transparency, help the public in their fight for lower property taxes, and improved our services for Lake County taxpayers. We gauge our progress on these important issues through the feedback we receive from Lake County residents at various events, forums, and other community engagement sessions.
Between increasing transparency to help lower property taxes, modernizing the Treasurer's office, reducing spending, and improving services for Lake County taxpayers, my office and I have made significant strides. With an additional 4 years, we can achieve even more successes for Lake County taxpayers.
Question 5: What do you say to residents who say their taxes are too high?
I recognize the burden high property taxes place on our hard-working families. I am working every day to equip and support taxpayers in their fight for lower property taxes.
My office doesn't levy taxes, we process, invest, and distribute tax payments, so unfortunately I cannot directly lower taxes, as much as I wish I could. But I am working every day to help equip Lake County taxpayers to fight for responsible spending at the local level, because that is the only way to finally reduce the heavy burden property taxes place on our hard-working families.
We are also working to find innovative ways to assist taxpayers, like we did in 2017. The national tax reform added additional complications for taxpayers, including a SALT Deduction cap that would potentially cost Lake County homeowners thousands of dollars in tax deductions on taxes owed in 2018. I worked with our Congressmen to secure IRS approval to allow tax deductions pre-payments, and then helped over 23,000 homeowners pre-pay their taxes.
In my capacity as Treasurer, I will continue to help taxpayers by increasing transparency to support them in their fight for lower property taxes. I will continue to educate the public on how taxes are determined, tax bills are created, and taxes are distributed. I will also continue to lead by example, reducing my office's spending and increasing returns on the county's investments.