Mark Mueller: 2023 candidate for Hoffman Estates Village Board


Town: Hoffman Estates

Age on Election Day: 52

Occupation: Retired police lieutenant

Employer: Village of Hoffman Estates

Previous offices held: President of several local and state youth sports leagues


Q: What is the most serious issue your community will face in the coming years and how should the city council or village board respond to it?

A: Hoffman Estates needs to plan for our future generations. The village owns the NOW Arena that has not had a single profitable year since opening in 2006 and has put village taxpayers on the hook for over $100 million in debt it'll take to pay off the arena. We have a large business area that was occupied by Sears Corporate that is vacant and there are massive projects that could cost the village millions if they were to be approved and moved forward by the village board. We need a leader on the board who will be the voice to put a stop to the wasteful spending and brings forward new ideas for the arena to ensure the village sets up the next generation of residents.

Q: How would you describe the state of your community's finances?

A: The village needed to use $2.4 million of the general fund reserves to pay for capital needs and balance the budget for 2023. Luckily the village received $2.8 million of the second allocation of the ARPA funding (American Rescue Plan Act) and $7.2 million from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants through the Small Business Administration. Those grants were awarded but future spending and income need to be addressed. Our taxpayers are on the hook for over $100 million to pay off the NOW Arena, and over the last four decades, our property tax rates have more than doubled and the village's tax levy has doubled. There is no long-term plan for our village's finances and it's going to hurt the next generation of residents and leaders here if we do not take action now.

Q: What should be the three top priorities for spending in your community during the next four years?

A: 1.) Improving infrastructure including burying power lines. The issues with ComEd have been ignored for too long will be a top issue resolved. 2.) I will let it be known that Hoffman Estates is open for business. We will listen to opportunities and be creative. It has taken years for the village to open a dispensary while other neighboring towns have huge returns. We will work with our developers to make their investment in the village a success. Most importantly, we will ask our community what businesses they want in the village and give them a voice in what development we pursue. The village has zero identity for what we are known for and it's time we give people a

reason to come to Hoffman Estates again. 3.) Keeping our families and neighborhoods safe. The police, fire, and public works have equipment that is getting outdated and will need replacing to maintain village safety. As a former police supervisor, I'll ensure our departments are staffed and prepared to keep us safe.

Q: Are there areas of spending that need to be curtailed? If so, what are they?

A: The village continues to sink money into the NOW Arena even though it sits dark most nights. The HideAway beer garden next door is owned by the village and does decent during summer, but this is not a part of the arena, yet the village uses those profits to say the arena is still a success. Until this venue starts producing, the village needs to stop dumping money into it for extra projects. The village championed the effort to build the arena, promising village taxpayers it would pay for itself and bring in an additional $1 million per year in tax revenues. Yet since opening in 2006, the arena hasn't had a single profitable year, losing village taxpayers nearly $14 million, losses that are likely to increase as a result of the recession. On top of that, village taxpayers are on the hook for an astonishing $108 million in debt to pay off the arena.

Q: What do you see as the most important infrastructure project the community must address? Why and how should it be paid for? Conversely, during these uncertain economic times, what project(s) can be put on the back burner?

A: The community has been reporting ComEd and lighting issues to the village for years. The village has been in contact with ComEd, but they have not stayed on top of this the way they should have. The village finally applied for a grant to help with street lighting but there is money set aside for new roads. When the roads are replaced, solar lighting

should be installed. The Barrington/90 project that was proposed will cost the village millions to relocate the public works headquarters as well as the village vehicle maintenance facility. This project needs to wait and have more public input.

Q: Describe your experience working in a group setting to determine policy. What is your style in such a setting to reach agreement and manage local government? Explain how you think that will be effective in producing effective actions and decisions with your village board or city council.

A: I spent 28 years following policy with the last 12 years writing and setting policy with the village. The key to any successful policy change is knowing what the goal is, then listening to everyone's input to make sure that the main focus does not change. I will work with this board to hear why they have decided on certain issues, then give my honest opinion. My goal is to give a fresh perspective that is often forgotten when the same board is in place term after term.

Q: What makes you the best candidate for the job?

A: I have spent my life living or working in the village and it is truly home to me. I treat the members of this community like my family. I have watched the village go from a leader in the Northwest Suburbs with new and exciting business and recreation, to a village that just gets by. Hoffman Estates is lacking an identity. With the large Sears complex, undeveloped Plote land, and Sutton Crossing, we need a younger fresh voice who is excited to be around for the long-term future and see projects completed. For years people have asked for a new voice on the board who has been in place for years. I have been a leader on many boards in our community and I am ready to listen, learn and become the voice for our future.

Q: What's one good idea you have to better the community that no one is talking about yet?

A: When Elk Grove hosted the "Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl," people questioned that decision. That outside the box thinking brought them several new businesses. Hoffman Estates needs exciting new ideas. Schaumburg has a new entertainment area that will be great. Hoffman Estates does not even have a downtown area. One such idea I have is the development of Sutton Crossing into a regional sports mecca complex. Sutton Crossing is 120 acres that has been sitting vacant for years and forgotten. This is the perfect location to build football, softball and indoor fields. This will draw thousands of families and millions into the local economy through sales tax to hotels and restaurants.

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