Below are candidate-submitted answers to a survey Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Office sought: Trustees for Village of North Riverside
Previous political experience:
- As a new comer to the scene has gained some political experience and possesses leadership and conflict resolution skills due to a military background.
Previous community experience:
- Served a 1 year tour of duty in Iraq for U.S. Army
- Sergeant in the United States Army National Guard
- As a Trainer for the Military Funeral Honors Program (Chicago Office) has conducted many military funerals for our fallen Soldiers.
Occupation: Sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard, Trainer for the Military Funeral Honors Program and an accredited Chef.
- Associates in Applied Science from Le Cordon Bleu Chicago
- Currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree.
Candidates H. Bob Demopoulos, Marybelle Mandel and Joshua Garza, who are running as the Save Our Firefighters slate, provided collective answers to the following questions:
Police and fire pensions are a heavy burden on the village’s annual budget, but they must, according to state law, be funded. What can the North Riverside Village Board do in the future to make sure those obligations are met?
First and foremost the Board must bid out any outside contracts the Village enters into. Second, pursue measures to gradually end the post-health care retirement perk that will cost the Village over $27 million throughout its life span.
Third, take a portion of extra income or revenues received from sales tax revenues of new businesses entering the Village and divulge them towards reducing our deficit which in turn will raise our credit rating and eliminate liabilities.
North Riverside ended its freeze on local property taxes by raising the tax levy in December 2014. How should the village board approach the issue of extending the tax levy in future years?
If there is new construction that allows the Village the opportunity to gain a greater tax base, there should be a small increase. Otherwise, taxes should remain low.
Are there spending cuts or increases you would recommend, and is there any way to make cuts without diminishing services to residents? Are any areas off limits for spending cuts?
The focus here should not be on cuts but primarily on the Village allowing the free enterprise system to take its course and allow many businesses to offer competitive bids for outside services saving the Village millions.
Also, there must be accountability and accuracy with respect to the Villages funds in order to cease the decade’s long practices of subsidizing and wasteful spending.
What is the most important issue facing the village in the next four years? What should be done about it?
With an almost $40 million debt, maintaining a financial equilibrium is crucial specifically when the Department of Insurance enters in the fiscal year 2016 and demands the Village to pay $5.1 million dollars owed to the pensions. The Village will not be able to pay some or the entire sum without the State withdrawing from the Village’s sales tax revenues unless fiscal responsibility is implemented.
Should elected officials and their families be eligible for the village’s health insurance program? Why or why not?
This issue on this perk has been discussed in the past and seems to be a non-issue.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
First, the Village needs to make an extreme effort in receiving a great deal more Community Development Block Grants in order to repair all our old streets.
Second, there has to be a collaborated movement into eliminating all red light cameras which we believe is costly towards our Business District by deterring consumers from spending their money in North Riverside and not intentionally anger loyal consumers.
Third, institute a Senior/Resident Bus Program in which many surrounding municipalities offer their residents.
Lastly, we need to place on the top ten list for the Illinois Policy Institute’s online transparency list and provide citizens with any and all financial data, local ordinances and a wealth of other information.