Long Grove candidates on TIFs, communication and historic bridge
The four candidates running for Long Grove trustee in the April 6 election have different ideas about tax increment financing districts, enhancing communication with residents and protecting the town's iconic bridge.
Incumbents Anne Kritzmire, Rita O'Connor and Bobbie O'Reilly are vying for second terms after being elected in 2017. They are being challenged by first-time candidate Mohammed Jameel.
Jameel, a physician, said the village needs to do a better job at transparency and communication with residents, including social media outreach.
O'Connor, a real estate broker and attorney, said the village has worked hard at that during the COVID-19 pandemic. She and O'Reilly said there is a need for a better phone system so employees working from home can respond in a timely manner.
O'Reilly, a Realtor, led an initiative to craft a business directory, now on the village's website, so the village and residents could communicate directly with businesses during the pandemic. O'Reilly and Kritzmire, who is a marketing manager, consultant and fund trustee, also said the village should add social media communications.
The village has two tax increment financing districts. In a TIF district, property tax revenues that normally go to local taxing bodies -- such as the village, school and park districts -- are frozen at existing levels. Property tax revenues beyond those levels, stemming from increases in the TIF district's equalized assessed valuation, are used to finance improvements within the district.
O'Connor voted "no" on the South Gateway TIF District approved by the village board in December. She said the village would have to issue bonds to fund initial projects. Kritzmire said "there are other ways" to do that.
Long Grove doesn't levy property taxes, so "it's terribly important" to spur tax-generating economic development," O'Reilly said.
Jameel said he is "fundamentally opposed" to TIF districts, whose funding he called "obscure."
He said he wants to seek state and federal grants to fund road projects and help local businesses during the pandemic. The village should collaborate with nearby communities to address traffic congestion, he added.
As for new ideas for the village, Jameel said he wants "thinking outside the box."
O'Connor suggested pedestrian bridges over Route 83 at Robert Parker Coffin Road and over Route 53 at Schaeffer Road.
Kritzmire suggested an open-air structure large enough for things like a farmers market, food trucks, music and cultural events, and even public village meetings.
O'Reilly suggested a feasibility study about building an addition to village hall, to improve office and perhaps public meeting space.
The incumbents said the village has worked hard to come up with ways to protect its downtown historic covered bridge, which was hit 13 times by vehicles from August to February alone.
O'Reilly said she intends to present a "high-tech solution" to the board.
Jameel said he'd like to declare downtown off-limits to truck traffic and install clearance sensors on the bridge.
Kritzmire and O'Connor pointed out the village already has spent a lot of money to protect the bridge. "We are just going to have to get more creative about signage," Kritzmire said.