Full Name: Thomas Ausman
What office are you seeking? County Board Member
What offices, if any, have you previously held? Whiteside County Board, 2008 to present. Sterling Township Board, 2005 to present.
Sterling Schools Board of Education, 1980 - 1983, & 1985 - 2003
Occupation: Retired from National Manufacturing
One of the biggest local issues curtailing economic development and growth is available affordable housing. The 2022 Census showed Lee and Whiteside both with more than 90% occupancy of existing residences. What is the role of the county to ensure there is available housing as it works to attract new businesses to the region?
Our county economic development department can continue to do research to help our county grow.
Many villages and municipalities in Lee and Whiteside have their own ambulance services, which are often strapped for cash to maintain operations. In addition, there are critical shortages of qualified EMTs and firefighters. What role should county government play in resolving these associated problems?
The county needs to work closely with all municipalities to help solve this problem, and encourage the schools to back and promote these critical vocations.
Is it time to encourage privatizing ambulance services, consolidate services and provide them at county level, or augment state funding with county funds to existing units?
This discussion should be ongoing within the entire county.
Northern Illinois counties are woefully behind when it comes to broadband and modern communications. What role does the county government have in equipping the region to meet the communication needs of the future?
Whiteside county is presently planning to provide provide fiber broadband access to entire county.
Northern Illinois is seen as having a great deal of potential in developing/expanding green energy in the form of solar and wind. How can the county government play a role in expanding this? At the same time, growers and property owners often express the need to preserve land for crops. Is there a balance to be struck? What are possible solutions?
We could use more solar farms by using areas that are not for agriculture, such as the closed landfill in Whiteside county. Also we need to harness the methane gas that is being burned off from our landfills in the area.
Should counties do more to expand access to county government?
We have an excellent website and people should check it regularly.
Should video of committees and board meetings be continued/expanded?
Yes. The majority of business is achieved in committees.
Should the county website be updated?
Continued improvement should be our policy.
Should board members be required to have email connections?
Yes. That idea is very important.
What technology upgrades and resource allocation is required to make it happen?
The county tech department should be able to make that happen.
What challenges is the region facing in terms of attracting business and tourism?
Attracting new businesses is very competitive and our area has a relatively low population base.
What tools and services do northern Illinois communities have that can be better applied to this effort?
The Whiteside county economic development department works extensively in this area.
What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
I support it fully believing that all citizens have a right to know what is going on in our communities.
Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.
Have a good relationship with local media and let our taxpayers know what is going on at all times.
What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?
When there are federal or state funds available let local businesses know how to access those funds.
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non- disclosure agreements with private businesses?
I do not know the answer to this question.
Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?
I do not know.
It appears inflation — in a way that hasn’t been experienced in a long time — is going to be an issue that could affect all local governments for the foreseeable future. What is the role of the county board as rising prices put a pinch on existing revenues?
Continue to budget conservatively. And follow the budgets.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?
We need to continue to prepare our annual budgets and follow them.
What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?
We need to follow our county engineer’s five year plan for projects and bridge inspections. This information is on the county website!
Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
I do not know if lowering property taxes is the answer. If that were to happen, the county might have to go for a higher sales tax.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
Elected officials need to be held accountable for their actions.
Is the Whiteside County airport underutilized, especially as it has a runway that can handle commercial traffic?
Yes it is underutilized. The airport board is
working hard to make improvements and growth of the airport.
Are there other investments to be made at the airport?
It would be nice if they were able to have a corporate hangar there which would encourage corporations to use our facility.
Is it a matter of promotion?
Promotion and planning.
How can the airport be an economic boon?
It would help bigger companies to come to our area
Whiteside County set aside $5 million in ARPA funds for unspecified projects. How should that money be spent and why?
One of the uses for those funds could be providing fiber broadband access to the entire county.