Martin R. Pais: 2021 candidate for North Barrington village board
Seven candidates for three seats
City: North Barrington
Occupation: Consulting Engineer at Cudo Technologies (Small business owner)
Civic involvement: Village of North Barrington Trustee, September 2020 -- Present Village of North Barrington Trustee, April 2013 - April 2017 (4 years) Village of North Barrington Plan Commission Chair, December 2012 - April 2013 Village of North Barrington Plan Commission Chair, October 2003 - September 2008 Village of North Barrington Plan Commission Vice-Chair, April 2003 - October 2003 Village of North Barrington Plan Commission Member, August 2017 - August 2020 Village of North Barrington Plan Commission Member, November 2008 - December 2012 Village of North Barrington Plan Commission Member, December 2001 - June 2003
Q: How do you view your role in confronting the pandemic: provide leadership even if unpopular, give a voice to constituents -- even ones with whom you disagree, or defer to state and federal authorities?
A: As a Village Trustee I have led by example. Local leaders should model the behavior they wish to see within the community. I follow the science, the state and the national health professionals' recommendations to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. The Village has worked to connect residents to resources needed to maintain health and safety.
Q: Did your town continue to adequately serve its constituents during the disruptions caused by the pandemic? If so, please cite an example of how it successfully adjusted to providing services. If not, please cite a specific example of what could have been done better.
A: It took time for everyone to adjust to a "new reality" in the early stages of the pandemic. Like businesses and other levels of government, North Barrington conducted meetings on Zoom until recently meeting in person. We limited public access to the Village Hall and encouraged public participation via Zoom. Limited access coupled with small staff operations have kept our employees and residents safe. North Barrington's government functions have remained strong during the pandemic. Contracted services like trash collection and snow removal have performed well. However our social events, our summer concerts and Christmas Celebration with Santa had to be canceled for publicly supported safety reasons.
Q: In light of our experiences with COVID-19, what safeguards/guidelines should you put in place to address any future public health crises?
A: This is a hard question to answer because small village governments are subject to county and state safeguards and guidelines. One thing is certain; any mandated or voluntary measures will carry a price, so having the funds to respond to emergencies is critical. The Village needs to maintain its solid financial footing, budget conservatively and hold on to our "rainy day savings" with an eye to "surprises" like this pandemic. It's important the residents are informed and that is why we send a newsletter and provide regular email updates, program news and Village information on our website -- NorthBarrington.org. Finally, the Barrington area is a larger community of coordinated leadership teams. We must work with our partners in every local, county and state government office to meet our constituent's needs in the future.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: I am proud to say that this year the Board decided to compassionately contain our levy to the standard distribution without asking the county treasurer for the rate of inflation (CPI). This was done in consideration of residents struggling with job loss, health care costs and/or additional bills. While not a large sum of money, CPI is of great importance to the Village. Our town's percentage of taxes received remains exceptionally low. Approximately 3.6% of a property tax payer's bill goes to the Village. Still remaining flat on our levy was the right choice during this pandemic year. Additionally, the Village has reduced spending by over 20% this year. We actively searched for unnecessary annual expenditures and rescheduled projects to a semiannual process. These reductions have eased Tax demand during these uncertain times and still allow the budgetary needs to meet our Village responsibilities.
Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project you must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what infrastructure project can be put on the back burner?
A: The Board will soon consider a 5-year Capital Improvements Plan. We will examine the Village infrastructure with special attention to culverts, drainage and flooding issues, and then establish a timetable for needed repairs or improvements. These improvements will be done on an "as needed" basis so as to maintain and improve our surface water management. This process will provide less inconvenience to our residents while improving drainage. The size and number of annual culvert projects will be determined by funds available. While the Village does budget for culvert work, our planners are also applying for Lake County stormwater Management grants and State funding grants to search for additional project dollars. As for back burner projects, our 20% spending reduction and balanced budget included moving our road improvements to every other year. North Barrington has a balanced budget with savings set aside for emergencies because of our fiscal responsibility
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: We are primarily a bedroom community. There are very few businesses and two private golf clubs in the Village. To my knowledge they are complying with the state regulations regarding the virus and we counseled our office park businesses to follow county guidelines for health safety.
Q: Do you agree or disagree with the stance your board/council has taken on permitting recreational marijuana sales in the community? What would you change about that stance, if you could?
A: North Barrington does not have marijuana businesses in the community, nor do we have the zoning requirements necessary for a dispensary or cultivation location.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: Option A -- There are a couple of parcels within the Village and adjacent to our neighboring communities that I believe offer the opportunity for some commercial development. I have served as the Chair for our Planning Commission and I think the Board should take a more active role in expanding our business footprint. With the development of businesses in North Barrington we will diversify our tax base, lessen the tax burden that falls primarily on our homeowners and potentially increase the funding needed to continually improve our community. Option B -- We need to strive to maintain a civil and peaceful atmosphere through transparency of the facts in government workings. We should continue to welcome feedback, encourage discussion and volunteerism. Please visit my election slate site: http://championsfornorthbarrington.com/