Patricia L. Kalinowski: 2021 candidate for North Barrington village board
Seven candidates for three seats
City: North Barrington
Occupation: Currently retired. Former Supervising Environmental Specialist, User Charge and Technical Services and Pretreatment Cost Recovery, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD)
Civic involvement: Trustee, Village of North Barrington, 2017-present Chairman, Environmental and Health Commission, Village of North Barrington, 2015-2017 Vice -Chairman, Environmental and Health Commission, Village of North Barrington, 2010-2013 Member, Environmental and Health Commission, Village of North Barrington, 2008- 2010 Flint Creek Watershed Partnership Plan, participating resident member, 2006-2013 WITS (Working in the Schools) Program mentor, 2006-2008
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: My personal role is to follow current guidance: wear a mask outside of my home, social distance, avoid large groups, and wash hands and sanitize surfaces. I carry additional cloth masks and disposable surgical masks to provide to those I encounter without one. As a local government official, my role is to stand behind the scientific community and medical professionals, following and promoting the guidance established by Federal, State and County Departments of Public Health.
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: While Village Hall remains closed to the public for day-to-day transactions due to COVID-19 restrictions, staff (2) report to work. The closure notice was sent via email, and posted on the door to Village Hall. An outside drop box is available for residents to submit paper work, permit applications, or payments. Residents are encouraged to send requests and submittals via email. However, residents arriving at Village Hall to conduct business, or attend Board meetings, found locked doors and a notice posted. Unprepared for work-from-home accessibility, the Village had to scramble to secure at least one expired VPN, and provided no laptops or phones for staff to work remotely. The Village is not in the best position to notify all residents with a current email list, and not all residents are sufficiently tech savvy to scan submittals required for permits or applications. Not all residents are being served adequately in general, and miserably in a crisis where time is of the essence to disseminate important information. The Village still relies on costly USPS mail, and such notices languish in text edits, off-site printing, and the manual process of filling and labeling envelopes.
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: The Village must stay aligned with current software and hardware technology, flexible and secure information management systems, easy-to-use online access for Village residents and staff, and updated, confidential, emergency contact information for all residents. The Village needs "compassionate demographics" of its population to better serve and assist those with critical needs, such as seniors, the disabled, or those living alone. Currently there are no outreach programs for residents sponsored or encouraged by the Village.
Q: What cuts can local government make to reduce the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers?
A: With home values decreasing and property taxes rising, the answer cannot be to add burden to residents with increased Village property taxes and new or increased fees. The Village should reduce budgeted costs through competitive bidding on the three largest expenses: policing, road program/engineering, and administration. Sources of revenue that are not driven by additional regulations, ordinances, fees or charges to residents should be increased. To do this, the Village must manage its income more efficiently, budget more responsibly, and have a forward vision to prepare for the unknowns that does not rely on incurring debt or issuing bonds. This can be accomplished through a review and update of current zoning; attracting commercial/small retail businesses; promoting the few existing businesses within our borders; joint land development and revenue sharing agreements with neighboring Villages; and annexing high-traffic intersections to attract new and innovative business enterprises.
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: Water is the most destructive force in nature. Development of a stormwater conveyance and management multiyear plan is critical, specifically for maintenance or replacement of the large 18"-48" culverts that lie beneath the Village's main roads. If the stormwater issues are not addressed, the road program literally crumbles. Expensive, full-road repaving or resurfacing should be put on the back burner. Repairing degraded sections or patching roads should continue. While man-made conveyances are common engineering solutions, stopping water before it reaches these engineered solutions makes more sense. This ties in with natural area management. To slow the speed of runoff, absorb rainfall by using rain gardens and swales, plant trees, and remove invasive species, such as buckthorn and purple loosestrife. The Village is a member of the Flint Creek Watershed Partnership and must commit to instituting the recommendations of that Plan. Funding can be secured through grants, Lake County SMC stormwater funding, and possible IEPA restoration grants.
Q: Do you plan to address businesses that don't adhere to the governor's order to close or restrict business?
A: The Village has a small office strip, two golf courses and one luxury event venue. All followed Federal, State and County DPH COVID-19 guidelines. There is no mechanism in place for the Village to take action for noncompliance of recommended COVID-19 precautions.
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: As a Trustee and Commission Chair, I have encouraged the Village to conduct annual or semiannual resident surveys on critical, controversial or financial topics, including energy aggregation, recreation activities, and recently, marijuana sales. No resident survey has been done while I have been a Village resident since 1999. An Ordinance was hastily placed before the Board at its November 20, 2019 meeting, to opt out of, or prohibit, cannabis business establishments in North Barrington. The State required that all municipalities opt in or out by Ordinance by December 31, 2019; a full Administrative agenda was planned for December 2019. My vote was 'no' to the prohibition of cannabis establishments, and the potential revenue stream a marijuana business (a grow center or dispensary) could bring to the Village as a source of income. It should be noted that had the Board voted to opt in, and allow future cannabis business establishments in North Barrington, modifications to the current zoning code, land acquisition, or annexation would become necessary before the Village could accept any development plan from a State licensed marijuana proprietor.
Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?
A: A "Neighbor Care Network." As stated above, the Village needs "compassionate demographics" of its population to better serve and assist those with critical needs, such as seniors, the disabled, or those living alone. The only cost would be the coordination of volunteers and setting up a network via portal or social media to match those in need to those with resources to share or talents to provide.