Kane County District 2 Democratic hopefuls discuss tax levy, Longmeadow toll
Two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the Kane County Board District 2 seat offered their views on issues involving the county tax levy and whether the county board should have enacted a toll for the Longmeadow Parkway bridge.
The winner of the March 17 primary election between Dale Berman and Richard Leonard will face Republican Tracy Miller of Aurora in November's general election for the seat's 4-year term.
District 2, which includes parts of North Aurora, Aurora and Montgomery, will have a new representative because the incumbent, Democrat Theresa Barreiro, is running for the Kane County Circuit Court Clerk post against Republican Thomas Hartwell.
If elected to the county board, Berman said he will step down from his current position as North Aurora village president. Berman cites his four decades of civic involvement in the Kane County area and says he has the connections and rapport to do more.
"I've been very proud of what we've done in North Aurora. As a community, we're very sound financially," he said. "I know how to make things happen. I know how to work with people."
Leonard, an Aurora resident who served six years in the East Aurora District 131 school board, says his mission is to represent his constituents, and he has the tenacity to speak up and question a board's spending and decisions.
"I don't think you have to be genius, a college grad to be on the board. You just need some common sense and be able to speak up," he said.
The county board has frozen its tax levy -- the yearly amount collected through property taxes -- for nearly eight years and both candidates said they are concerned about county spending.
The Property Tax Limitation Act, or tax cap, limits levy increases to the Consumer Price Index, or rate of inflation, or 5%, whichever is less.
Berman said he is open to exploring other revenue sources through grants and other means, but doesn't want to increase the levy.
"They haven't taken advantage of that little bit (through CPI) every year,"
Leonard opposes increasing the levy.
He said the county spends enough each year and he wants to explore consolidating some services.
"They're like a bucket with a hole in it, you'll never fill it up," he said. "They've got enough money. It's how they spend it."
Another issue the county board recently addressed was enacting a 95-cent toll for Longmeadow Parkway Bridge on the county's north end.
The bridge will be completed in 2022, and it will be the only toll road in Kane County to help pay for the $28 million borrowed by the county to help build it.
Berman said he favors the toll because it's a user fee and people can make their own decisions on whether to use the bridge.
"It's going to save time and effort but they still have choices to go the way they've been going all along," he said.
Leonard said he was undecided.
"That's a tough one," he said. "I don't like the idea. I can't say I'd vote for or against it. I don't have enough information."
Early voting has begun at certain locations and will run through March 16.