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:
- Candidate for North Riverside Village Trustee (Transparency & Accountability In Politics Party) 2013
- Candidate for North Riverside Village Trustee (Every Resident Counts Party) 2009
Previous community experience:
- A community activist since making North Riverside my home
- Helped neighbors with anything they need offered help to seniors.
Occupation: UPS Package Handler
Education: High School Graduate
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 V.I.P. party has been mismanaging North Riverside taxpayer dollars for decades. They have bamboozled the residents long enough. The situation has gotten to a point where the lies and deceit can no longer stop hold off financial catastrophe:
a. While VIPs used to boast that there was no property taxes because of the “Mall,” the Village is now $56,000,000 in debt, and way behind in back pension payments. [Soon we will be as lost as the State on these pension issues];
b. VIP has granted “no-bid” contract extensions to the scavenger contractor and the paramedics contractors. Without bids, how do we know that these extended contracts (worth over $10,000,000) is a good use of taxpayer funds
c. The Village has thrown away multiple hundreds of thousands of citizen’s money to lawyers in a frivolous lawsuit trying to “bust” our firefighter’s union. The VIP administration has lost at every stage of this litigation. The Illinois Appellate Court has called the VIP position “disingenuous.” The only winners here are the VIP selected lawyers.
d. Decades of unchecked VIP rule has resulted in a bloated administration where VIP cronies are being paid disproportionate fees and salaries; only adding to the growing deficit.
e. To make up for their mismanagement; the VIP administration has chosen to raise water fees to a ridiculous rate; with no relief in sight.
f. The answer is a total overhaul of the Village Administration, clean house of the bloated salaries and professional fees; institute efficiencies; and implement a comprehensive plan of a fair and balanced revenue structure.
North Riverside firefighters have been working without a contract since April 30, 2014. What is the realistic long-term solution for the North Riverside Fire Department? How do you think your preferred model can be accomplished given the experience of the past five years?
There is nothing wrong with the current fire department structure that common sense would not fix:
a. Stop the ridiculous and frivolous litigation;
b. Work with the union to institute cost-savings measures;
c. Look at the previous proposal of utilizing our own firefighters as paramedics, thus eliminating the need for a costly private contract.
North Riverside historically has asked homeowners to pay very little in property taxes to support village services. With pension obligations continuing to grow and the state of retail sales on uncertain ground, how would you continue to keep property taxes low? Do residents need to start paying more to fund obligations such as pensions? Why or why not?
All the VIP ever does is kick the can down the road; hope nobody notices; and sponsors a few more fireworks displays. This type of fiscal mis-management is a travesty and will soon become a tragedy for all homeowners. We need to do the following:
a. Develop and implement a long range plan. After the efficiencies are implemented from #1 above, look at all potential revenue streams.
b. This VIP Administration (and those in the past) has had no plan. Through no initiative of their own, they stumbled upon the “golden goose” (The North Riverside Mall) Since then, they have mis-spent the sales tax proceeds and done nothing to retain or attract new business.
c. I will create a business development group, that will be aggressive in attracting and retaining business. VIP was asleep at the controls when they allowed Tony’s food market to relocate across Harlem Avenue.
d. Only with an aggressive and professional approach will we be able to compete in this ever-changing economic marketplace. Strong leadership here will strengthen and stabilize sales tax revenue.
e. Then we should attack balancing a fair and reasonable balance between user fees, license revenues, ordinance fines and property taxes to appropriately fund our budget of necessary services.
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?
Yes. It is critical that we utilize all resources at our disposal to research, develop and implement a comprehensive plan for our community. I believe we should utilize the information that has been compiled by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. We should cooperate and participate with that organization, as well as the counties and municipalities involved.
We must stop the VIP total mismanagement of Village funds now.
What are the other important issues facing North Riverside in the next four years? How should those be addressed?
As noted in the paragraphs above; my belief is that we must first tackle the critical areas of (1) Fiscal Responsibility; (2) Business Development (retention and attraction) and (3) Comprehensive Planning for business, community and fair revenue streams. Additionally, it is my plan to make the following issues a priority:
Stop spending residents tax dollars on a frivolous lawsuit against the Fire Department. Be the watchdog of the residents at every Village meeting. Keep things out in the open and have all meetings videotaped for the public. Keep things open for all to see.