Tim Bivins, Lee County Board 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire

Election 2024
Lee County Board, District 3 candidate Tim Bivins

Full Name: Tim Bivins

What office are you seeking? Lee County Board District 3

What offices, if any, have you previously held? Sheriff Lee County, State Senate 45th District

City: Dixon

Occupation: Retired

Education: Dixon High School, Brown Institute Minneapolis MN, Sauk Valley College

Campaign Website: No

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?

To work with local, state, federal agencies and create the infrastructure for business and residential housing. Lowering property taxes would certainly help in new residential construction.

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?

By investing in Economic Development and growing the tax base (as opposed to raising taxes) can help with the funding issue. Working with education, high schools and Sauk Valley College to increase interest in the profession and work with private businesses to create more funding and scholarships.

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?

I believe we have a good mix of private and public ambulance services which do a good job. Privatization becomes a for-profit business. With the largest expenditure being employee salaries and benefits, which also become the first to be cut or reduced when not making a profit. With current hiring shortages I don’t believe this is the time to move to privatization or consolidation. Additionally this would be a huge cost to the county to provide ambulance service.

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?

Broadband is one of the five stated goals for use of the ARPA funds. Currently the county is working with the State of Illinois’s Broadband Expansion program which may provide additional funding.

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?

I believe we have a good balance at this time and not supportive of any future expansion.

Should counties do more to expand access to county government?

Lee County is currently in the process of updating the video/audio for board meetings which also includes greater access to the meetings by video.

Should video of committees and board meetings be continued/expanded?

Yes (see answer to previous question)

Should the county website be updated?

Information on the county website is updated on a regular basis so I’m not sure I see the need at this time.

Should board members be required to have email connections?

While I think it a good idea to have an email, all board members do have contact information listed on the county website, so I would not mandate it.

What technology upgrades and resource allocation is required to make it happen?

The county could provide county email addresses but I would defer to the county IT department as to what that would entail and any associated costs.

What challenges is the region facing in terms of attracting business and tourism?

The first challenge is being competitive with other counties/municipalities. To do so there has to be a comprehensive plan for economic development. With I-88 and I-39 Lee County is positioned to take advantage of not only traffic through the county but access to and from locations such as Chicago and the Quad Cities.

What tools and services do northern Illinois communities have that can be better applied to this effort?

Blackhawk Waterways Convention and Visitors Bureau, Lee County Tourism Council, Dixon Chamber of Commerce. Marketing existing destinations, parks and events such as the festivals throughout the county, Depot Days, Nachusa Grasslands & Bisson, Franklin Grove Griss Mill, Sublette Toy Show, Petunia Festival, etc.

What are your thoughts on the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?

It is adequate.

Please state your plan to maintain government transparency.

Follow all laws, rules, regulations pertaining to government.

What would you push for as a member of county government to boost local businesses?

The first thing I have advocated for is using the ARPA funds to make sure small businesses that may still be struggling from financial loss (from Covid) and borrowed money be considered for funding. Businesses are funded and supported by consumers so increasing tourism and making Lee County a destination should increase traffic to our local businesses.

Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private businesses?

An NDA is normally a contract to protect sensitive information from competing businesses. While a board member should abstain from voting if there is a conflict from being associated with a business, I don’t see an issue with signing one.

Would you push for or against government officials and employees being allowed to sign nondisclosure agreements with private businesses?

See answer to previous question

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?

To make sure we increase revenue without raising taxes and one way to accomplish that would be through economic development.

Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what needs to be done about it?

There is a crime problem nationally that I believe will eventually affect us locally. We need to start addressing crime from the root cause as billions of dollars and countless programs have not worked as we have the highest national homicide rate in the history of our country. The crime problem needs to be addressed from a different perspective and I would quote Chuck Colson to that end; “Everyone always asks what is the cause of crime. Fundamentally this is the wrong question to ask. The right question is, what causes virtue.”

What local road and bridge projects should be a priority to get done in the county?

My personal opinion is a bridge on the county line between Rochelle and Lee County. The bridge is in the enterprise zone that extends into Lee County and would be the beginning of the needed infrastructure to support heavy truck traffic.

Do you support decreasing local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?

Since Illinois has some of the highest property tax in the nation I do believe it should be reduced and would benefit not only the property owner but the housing industry. The timing and how has been a long debated question and proposed solutions have included a trade off, In other words lower property taxes and increase sales or other taxes. Again investing in economic development can grow the tax base without raising other taxes. The City of Rochelle is a perfect example as over the years have doubled their tax base through a comprehensive economic development plan.

Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?

I think the current laws in place are sufficient. Like any law there has to be enforcement and in some cases there may be reluctance to do so on a broader scale not just county government.

Lee County received $6.6 million in ARPA funds. What do you think of how the county has used the funds so far, and what do you think the county’s remaining ARPA money should be used for?

Prior to my appointment in January of this year the county established a committee to distribute the funds and to date approximately a million dollars has been distributed. So far the county has received half funds with the remaining funds scheduled to be received in May or June of this year. The county establish five areas for funding; Business/ Tourism, Social Services, Job Training, Technology, Broadband Infrastructure.

Once those priorities are met then other applications for funding will be looked at by the committee.