Below are candidate-submitted answers to a survey Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Office sought: Trustee, Village of North Riverside, Illinois
Previous Political Experience: Village Trustee (2 Years)
Previous Community Experience: Village of North Riverside Planning Commission, Director on the North Riverside Library Foundation, Neighborhood Services Committee and Block Captain, Member of Mater Christi and Holy Name Society, Co-Organizer of North Riverside Cancer Walk and an active volunteer in the Feed Six Hunger Campaign.
Occupation: Financial Options Trader at Chicago Mercantile Exchange (18 Years)
Education: B.A. Degree from Dominican University
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?
Our outlook for the future should be to keep our firefighters on the job while containing costs through stronger management of overtime and eliminating future pension costs by paying what is currently owed and then moving firefighters to a 401(k) plan like most Village residents have and businesses provide. I want our firefighters to have job security and our residents and businesses to be protected from unnecessary tax hikes while maintaining excellent Village services. The Village will continue to make their proper contributions, like we did this year to the funds. Our outlook for the future will be to look for new sources of revenue while strictly controlling costs within the village.
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?
The residents fiscal well being is always our top priority. We will continue to look for cost cutting measures and continue in our search for ways to supplement our expenses to the village with new sources of revenue while removing the financial burden from the residents. It’s our duty to the residents to do everything we can to eliminate any extra costs to the residents while maintaining the highest possible services to the community. It was the first tax increase in over twenty years, We will take steps in the future to hopefully never have to raise them again. . The average household increase was approximately $1 dollar a month and $9 dollars a year for senior Citizens.
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?
We have looked at each and every budget and taken a long term approach towards budgeting for the future. We have indicated some of the larger projects, such as new roofs, needed renovations, service vehicles and spaced them out according to our revenue projections, instead of purchasing and then looking for money to fund projects. This approach has lessened our need for immediate money while taking on the most important ones as needed, while still maintaining the safety as our number one responsibility to not only our residents, but also our village employees. By taking preventive steps like this it will help the village maintain an already stable economy without burdening the residents with any new taxes. We are always looking to make cuts when we see areas that are not needed or not necessary any longer, we also take great steps in providing an open bidding process for any and all future services that we use outside of the village that is not serviced by village employees. There is not, an should not be, any spending cuts off limits when it comes to our fiscal responsibility to the residents.
What is the most important issue facing the village in the next four years? What should be done about it?
The most important issue facing the Village in the future will be to find fiscally responsible and creative ways to maintain our services to the residents without burdening them with any new taxes. One of the ways, which we are currently using, such as bringing and maintaining solid businesses to our community, which not only generate tax revenue for our village, but also attract other businesses and people to our community. We also maintain relationships and open dialogue with the business community to find out what the village can do to help maintain our current financial stability.
Should elected officials and their families be eligible for the village’s health insurance program? Why or why not?
I feel that if it is offered, then yes, elected officials should be eligible for insurance. I do not use the insurance offered by the village, but if you are serving the village, then you should be offered to be protected by them.
What other issues do you feel will be important for the next village board to address? How should they be addressed?
Our goal is and will continue to be ways to create and stabilize our economy while continuing to attract businesses to our village. This will be accomplished by our maintaining a great business environment for both businesses to succeed and residents to benefit from them. Whether it be shopping, dining or residents working and providing for their families. The businesses not only support the village with tax revenue, but they provide top-notch dining and shopping opportunities along with thousands of jobs for our community.