Below are candidate-submitted answers to a biographical survey Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent out to all candidates running in this year’s elections.
Previous political experience: No political experience.
Previous community experience: Christmas for a Cause, Costumes for a Cause,
Dreams for Daniele, Komarek PTA, Coats for Komarek, Fun Fair, Little League Board – Concession Stand
Occupation: Accounts Receivable Specialist
Education: MBA, Dominican University
Bachelor of Science, University of Illinois
What is the present state of the village of North Riverside’s financial situation? What is being done and what can be done to ensure its long-term viability and make it more resistant to downturns in sales tax revenues?
The Village’s financial outlook is considered stable which was independently confirmed by an outside bond rating agency this past October when they rated the Village’s credit worthiness. There has been a balanced budget the past four years, improved financial health of all major operating funds, replacement of aging infrastructure, expanded services with new and improved recreation programs and a bus service for senior and disabled residents, consistent payment of our annual pension costs for the Police and Fire Pension Funds and elimination of costly retirement health care benefits for employees. In order to ensure our long-term viability, we should continue to explore additional creative revenue streams that will enhance our tax base and target users who do not rely heavily on our public services.
What is the realistic long-term solution for the North Riverside Fire Department? Does that future include a hybrid contract paramedic/union firefighter model? Wholly union? Wholly contract? How do you think your preferred model can be accomplished given the experience of the past two years?
The Village’s pension debt continues to grow at a rapid pace due to the money paid into the pension fund does not support the monies needed to be paid out in future benefit costs. This needs to be addressed so that the Village can continue to provide the services our residents need and deserve. It is important to remember the Village has no control over the pension plans offered for its workers as these are State mandated plans. Until the State addresses and solves this statewide pension crisis, realistic but innovative ways to control pension costs must be considered. The future would include a hybrid contract paramedic/union firefighter model. By limiting the number of full time firefighters eligible for these costly pension plans and supplementing our workforce with paid on call or contract firemen will not only help us reduce costly overtime but also keep our pensions in check. This solution is realistic and needs to be considered by the Union Firefighters. We are hopeful that we can find a long term solution together.
Who is in charge of the building department right now? How are building department matters being managed right now, and how should they be managed in the future?
Karyn Byrne, our Code Enforcement Officer, is in charge of the building department and is overseen by the Village Administrator. The Village’s building department is staffed by contract personnel and part-time workers which alleviates the need for costly full-time employee benefits and pension costs. This structure has worked well for the Village and should continue.
Now that a major road improvement project has been completed, what is the next important public infrastructure project for the village? How should it be funded?
Now that the largest Street Program in our Village’s history is complete, the next important public infrastructure project would be to enhance and replace our aging water delivery infrastructure. Since we now have control over the Water Fund’s financial performance and a water rate analysis was performed, we will now plan within our regular budgeting cycle to make improvements in our water delivery system.
Would the village benefit from a comprehensive planning process, perhaps as part of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning a la Riverside and Brookfield? If not, why not?
Our village would not benefit from inclusion with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning with Brookfield or Riverside as this agency represents differing needs of over 7 counties within the Chicagoland Metropolitan Area. Our Village is very different in its residential and commercial makeup than our surrounding communities and therefore, our zoning and land use philosophies differ dramatically. Many years ago, our Village laid the foundation for a comprehensive plan with the annexation of the National Armory. We also have a designated a large business district along Cermak and Harlem Roads. If the property held by the Armory becomes vacant, some permitted land uses could be senior residential housing, light commercial use, and/or a hotel to accommodate patient families from Loyola. These uses are consistent with our strategic plan started many years ago.
Do you support red light cameras? If so, why? If not, how would you replace the revenue from cameras now earmarked for pension obligations?
I support red light cameras. Red light cameras assist in drivers obeying traffic laws. They have also been helpful in solving crimes. The revenue from the cameras is an added benefit which has been used 100% to fund our public pensions. Although the revenue from the cameras does not cover all of our pension costs, without it the Village would have to increase other fees or eliminate public services.
What are the other important issues facing North Riverside in the next four years? How should those be addressed?
Another issue facing North Riverside is to keep our services high and taxes low. The biggest challenge for the next four years will be to find a long term solution to reducing the Village’s growing pension debt without it affecting the level of services offered to our residents or the Village’s tax base.