The Riverside-Brookfield Landmark sent questionnaires to each person running for public office in 2023. The Landmark’s questions are in bold and the candidate’s responses are below.
Name: Antontio Santucci
Previous/Current Community Involvement: Contract negotiation team and insurance committee, police department
Occupation: Retired security guard
Education: Associate degree in criminal justice
During the past two annual budget discussions, North Riverside trustees have been faced with steep general operating fund deficits. In 2021-22, federal COVID relief funds offset a projected $1 million deficit, but those funds are not available in 2022-23, a year in which North Riverside projects an approximate $900,000 deficit. Village staff have projected operating budget deficits of more than $2 million annually for the 2023-24 and 2024-25 fiscal years.
With that as a backdrop, how would you as a village trustee approach the following financial issues:
1. With paramedic services coming back in-house and the village poised to hire six additional firefighters/paramedics over the next three years, North Riverside will be adding to its long-term pension burden. How will that additional pension burden be absorbed in future budgets?
With the addition of Firefighter/Paramedics this is more people contributing to the pension fund. Newer employees are not paid top pay as are the employee’s salary is less than retiring employees along with new employees contributing to the pension fund will either offset or be a plus to the fund. Another big that the Village will save on overtime.
2. Red light cameras, which produce more than $1 million in revenue for the village each year, will be removed from the Harlem/Cermak intersection this spring and could be permanently gone if the state does not approve a new application for their installation. Would you support reinstalling red light cameras at Harlem and Cermak once the intersection is improved this year? If not, how do you believe North Riverside can make up for that loss of revenue?
I am in favor of the red light camera not only for revenues but for the safety that comes with it. People who may think of going through a red light or turn on the red light will think twice. The red light camera will reduce accidents and injury.
3. From 2017-19, the village embarked on a major project to improve its Cermak Road water main west of First Avenue. The project got as far as 11th Avenue before coming to a halt in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you believe that it is important for the village to continue this project and, if so, how can the village fund this work, which has cost almost $500,000 for each of the first three phases?
I would want to see a project that was started get completed. Seeing that this was a planned project that started over 6 years ago I have to look further into the project plans. With large projects like this there is sometimes state funding available. There are also other funding options that may be available.
4. If the village were in a position to gain an adult-use cannabis dispensary, would you support such a use in the village? If yes, in what area of the village do you think it should be located? Do you believe that there are any specific village expenses that the village should prioritize using cannabis tax revenues?
I would support adult cannabis dispensary. I think it should be located in an area with high traffic such as Cermak Road. The village can benefit the most by people purchasing the cannabis. The additional income can be used for many things within the Village. It can be used to guarantee that the great services that the Village currently has and provide additional services to keep the village safe.
5. In the absence of a cannabis dispensary, would you support an expansion of video gambling parlors? How would you respond to those who believe video parlors should be limited to the existing 10?
I believe the amount we have in Village now is good. But I have an open mind to discuss this further. If it would greatly benefit the village then I would agree.
6. Would you support placing a referendum on the ballot asking for the village to become a home rule community? Why or why not? Would you support seeking home rule status for the village?
I would have to research home rule a little more as far as what benefits would be I believe that it would have to be a board decision. Also I will like to make sure that if was on the ballot our residence understood the purpose and benefits.
7. Would you support placing a referendum on the ballot seeking to impose a tax levy to fund police and/or fire pension obligations? Why or why not? Would you support a pension levy referendum?
I would like to do more research on this matter. If the benefit would be that the Village can add more police and fire personal that is always a plus.
8. The village in 2020 bought the former Presbyterian church property at 24th Street and 8th Ave. How do you believe the village should determine the best use for that property? Should the village keep it? If so, for what purpose? If not, why not?
I believe that the Village should sell to developers so that houses can be built. If the parcels can be subdivided there is a good chance that the sale would bring a profit to the Village. Also once the houses are build it will be additional tax revenue to the Village also.