August 15, 2022
Election


Election

Kendall County Board candidates agree taxes too high, but differ on what county can do to limit hikes

Candidates for seats on the Kendall County Board in the June 29 primary election agree that property taxes are too high in the county, but have differing views on what the county can do to limit futures increases.

The candidates expressed a variety of opinions when asked by the Record Newspapers in a questionnaire if they believe there is fat in the county budget and to identify any departments or programs that could be either curtailed or eliminated to save funds.

(Complete questionnaires for District 1 County Board candidates can be viewed here, while District 2 candidates can be viewed here.)

District 1 Kendall County Board candidates

Jason Peterson (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

First, I would go over the budget with a fine-toothed comb to better understand our deficits. I’d promote a more commonsense approach to spending – interview department heads to identify areas that need attention and areas that can be trimmed. As a real estate broker for the past 16 years, the number one question I received was “Why are Kendall County taxes so high?” It’s also the number one question I’ve received recently while walking neighborhoods and meeting people in District 1.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

From what I understand, the county is running fairly efficiently. Question is, for how long? With my expertise from the city council level, I can make sure these departments/programs are being utilized and ran more efficiently. This is also where interviewing department heads will come into play.

Ruben Rodriguez (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

Kendall County has been one of the few entities in the county to not take the Chained Consumer Price Index increase for the past several years. Tax increases have largely come from the school districts, townships, municipalities or other special districts that have their own governing board. However, to help drive taxes lower the County Board needs to push for economic development for commercial or industrial development which will help with minimizing property taxes. Additional residential development will not have the same impact that commercial or industrial development would.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

I was appointed to the Kendall County Board January 2021. I was fortunate to have experienced the 2022 budgeting process. I witness the hard work and dedication that the KCB finance team and Finance Committee put in place to provide guidance in the review and approval of the Kendall County budget. It was not easy, and many difficult discussions were had with department heads. Almost every department had to cut their 2022 budget request in order to finalize a balanced budget. Of course, there’s always room for improvements but every department is already very lean.

Seth Wormley (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

Property taxes are certainly high. Education about tax bills is important because there are many taxing authorities in the county that contribute to the final bill. As a County Board member, I can work with the budget available to continue providing services to the residents of the county that we can afford while maintaining a balanced budget. I don’t like tax referendums.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

Costs continue to rise for residents, as well as for the county’s expenses. I don’t expect this to change. It is important that we serve our community and maintain a balanced budget for the line items that are most important to the community. Providing valuable services like KAT (Kendall Area Transit), funding the sheriff’s department and taking care of our roads are priorities.

Brian DeBolt (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

Bring in more commerce and industry to Kendall County to lessen the tax burden on taxpayers.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

The county runs very efficiently, we run balanced budgets. The county is growing and demanding more, not less, in services and safety. The use of new technology in building design and materials to make buildings more efficient and maintainable and energy efficient. Create a five-year plan for growth, not a 10-year plan; times are changing quickly. A good plan needs to be revisited annually and tweaked. Make sure departments are manned efficiently and not overstaffed. Get the full life out of equipment. Do not spend tax dollars just because they’re in the budget. Return unspent funds back to the general fund. Do not levy funds if not needed. Research and use renewable energy like we have practiced and use, like solar.

Scott Gengler (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

Kendall County is the best county in the state! We continue to grow in both population, over 14% the past decade, and in business. In order to keep Kendall County at the top, we need to make sure that our infrastructure is also the best. From the water we consume to the highways we drive on and to the internet we use. For the last five years, the county has not taken the tax extension, or CPI increase, and we continue to balance the budget by not taking the tax extension. I will continue to work with the board members to limit continued increases on the residents’ property tax bills.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

Every year, typically in September, we come together as a board and listen to all of the Kendall County elected officials and department heads to present their budgets for their specific office or department. Each budget is then analyzed by every board member to address concerns of overspending with opportunity to ask questions. Any extra spending can be addressed at this time.

Malanda Griffin (D)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

I agree Kendall County [has] among the highest property taxes in Illinois. If I was elected as a board member, I would suggest establishing a ceiling limit to prevent the continual increase of property taxes for residents living in Kendal County.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

Yes. There is fat in the county budget as it has increased by $4.2 million since last year from 2021. After reviewing the budget, I see there are several departments that could reduce or eliminate spending: Health and Human Resources and Capital Expenditures.

District 2 Kendall County Board candidates

Brian LeClercq (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

The first thing to do is to go through each budget with a fresh set of eyes and see if there are any potential cost savings to be had. Second, continue to work with our municipalities to find effective ways to attract new businesses. Pooling resources and attracting new business will lead to reduced property taxes.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

Not sure fat is the right word to use. Public entities have a tendency to overpay for information technology. I will work to ensure that we don’t perpetuate the problem. It is important to keep up with technology in the most cost-effective manner.

Dan Koukol (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

Encourage economic development throughout the county but with high concentration at our main corridors that were planned for large-box warehouse buildings and other business. Communicate to other taxing bodies to keep a sharp pencil on expenses, this is no time to be raising property taxes.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

I believe all the departments are running very lean at the county, Federal COVID-19 monies are available to us, so we have done a few small projects to date that we have put a stamp of approval on that have been on the books to do since 2008. No tax increases to run the county.

Matt Kellogg (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

I would continue to work on alternate revenue sources so that we can lower our portion of real estate taxes. In the past six years we have lowered our portion of the tax bill. The county has multiple revenue source that have increase and managing this money allowed us to decrease our percentage of the real estate taxes.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

The best way to save funds with the county is to work with other taxing bodies to combine or share services. We have implemented numerous intergovernmental agreements with cities, townships and other taxing bodies. Communication on projects is essential to saving the taxpayer money.

Gabriella Shanahan (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

I am committed to not increasing the property tax levy on existing houses. Additionally, to take the tax burden off of homeowners the county board must broaden the tax base and encourage more businesses to locate in the county.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

This is a year-by-year review for each area of the budget. With my master’s degree in finance and with my experience on the Finance Committee for the board of health, I am eager to review yearly and get to work to make sure tax dollars are spent appropriately every year.

Diane Selmer (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

I agree with this statement, and would see what I could do to lower the property taxes after being elected, since you need to be in the office to see where changes can be made at the county level, while still maintaining the services our residents expect. As a trustee for Oswego Township, and the prior board, I voted for and was pleased that we were able to lower the township levy 2%, while maintaining services. We sold the property on Route 71 as well as the 84 Templeton property, placing both of those back on the tax roll, lessening some of the tax burden for our residents, and I would do my best to help everyone with lower property taxes, especially my fellow seniors.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

It is difficult to identify if and where there is fat unless you are an active County Board member, but I certainly would work to be sure all county departments are effectively working to provide our residents with cost effective services in a timely fashion.

Donna Sawicki (R)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

In order to limit property tax increases I would take a hard look at our budget to see where we might be able to reduce costs and make sure we’re being efficient in our current and future spending. Plus, I would push for local economic development to also help alleviate the burden on taxpayers.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

I definitely have questions about some of the county’s expenditures, but they require a little more investigating. As a County Board member I would ask these questions and find out if these certain expenditures are first justified and second if they can be adjusted or eliminated.

Zach Bachman (D)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

As a board member I would do my best to attract new businesses while also searching for and removing any fat in the county budget. The aims of the acts would be to help soften the weight of the taxes shouldered by the people of Kendall.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

After reviewing the budgets of the past few years, it seems the board has done a great job of keeping fat out of the budget. Going forward, I would like to meet with elected officials and department heads to gain their insight on what can be done to further the efficiency of our budget.

Brooke Shanley (D)

Property taxes in Kendall County are consistently among the highest in Illinois. What would you do as a County Board member to limit the continued increases residents see on their property tax bills?

When I’m knocking on doors, one of the most important issues to residents is the property tax burden. Many Kendall County families are struggling due to high property taxes. There is no quick fix for this issue. Solving it requires elected officials who are committed to working collaboratively across all levels to create a solution. I will work collaboratively with our leaders and elected officials at all levels to alleviate the property tax burden. No one should be taxed out of their home. I am committed to ensuring that Kendall County remains an affordable county to live in for everyone.

Is there fat in the county budget? If so, please identify which departments or programs that you would work to either curtail or eliminate to save funds.

While there are many things the county does well, there is always room for improvement. I am committed to reviewing our budget, line item by line item, to determine where we can achieve savings. I would like to examine the true potential of the technology available to us in Kendall County and determine ways in which we can better utilize technology to be more efficient with our expenditures. Additionally, I would like to look at our other expenditures to ensure that we are utilizing taxpayer dollars wisely.