After an overly long set-up yesterday, today we move into what office seekers who attended the McHenry County Young Republicans’ Candidates’ Forum said about the County Board’s having decided to maximize the amount of money it will take out of our pockets this summer.
Before beginning, let me remind you of those incumbents who voted to increase the tax levy so the tax take from property owners will be as high as allowed by state law.
Those running for re-election are in boldface type.
- Robert Bless
- Scott Breeden
- Sue Draftcorn (a switch)
- Mary Donner
- Jim Heisler
- Tina Hill (a switch)
- John Jung
- Donna Kurtz
- Mary McCann
- Pete Merkel
- Anna May Miller (a switch)
- Marc Munaretto
- Kathy Bergan Schmidt
- Ken Koehler
Candidates were allowed two minutes to introduce themselves. Some used the time to emphasize the tax hike issue.
Friday night it was Joe Gottemoeller, Nick Provenzano, Mary Alger, Sandy Salgado, John Hammerand and Ed Varga, (I was taking photos, so if I missed someone, let us know in the comment section.)
The tax issue surfaced in some of the opening comments.“I voted ‘No’ on the tax increase,” District 3 incumbent Provenzano said in his opening.
“I’m here to put the brakes on…raising taxes,” said Tea Party candidate Mary Alger, running in District 3.
“I voted ‘No’ on the tax increase,” District 4 incumbent Sandra Salgado chimed in.
And that was all before the tax hike question was asked.
Crystal Lake City Councilwoman Carolyn Schoefield praised the process set in place to immediately begin an effort to see how the budget could be cut. She explained that her city “dipped into our reserves to lower the tax levy,” but noted, “the reserves are not limitless.”
“I voted against the budget increase,” John Hammerand said.
“If there’s money to be spent, we use it.”
District 4’s Ed Varga of Richmond:
“I was upset about hearing about the tax levy, the last minute nature of it.
“Just go to each department and say, ‘You’ve got 5% less to spend.'”
Having served on the McHenry County Board of Health, he pointed to an outside audit that said the local health department did more with less than any other Chicago area health department.
Joe Gottemoeller, a challenger in District 3, expanded on his opening remark by answering, “No” and pointing out that property taxes had increase from 2% of a home’s value to 4% since 1994.
“Government has to tighten its budget.”
“I’m not looking for increasing the tax levy,” explained District 2 challenger Tom Wilbeck. “That’s what got me involved on the very last day.”
He told that people asked, “Are you going to raise my taxes?” as he went door-to-door soliciting petition signatures.
Incumbent Mary Donner of District 3 said, “I guess you get to hear frankly (from one in the) peanut gallery who voted, ‘Yes.'”
The Finance Committee member explained that the Committee started working on the budget in May. She pointed to mandates, e.g., courtrooms for two new judges.
“We are the smallest unit government [at least the smallest Illinois county] that has a Triple A bond rating.”
District 3 incumbent Nick Provenzano reiterated that he had voted against the $2.7 million increase. He pointed out that the Board had taken “an addition $1.2 million out of the tax reserves.
“That was a mistake.
“We need to relieve staff of some of the high level decisions. We have to stop spending where we don’t need to.”
District 3’s Tea Party Republican, Mary Alger, said, “I would not have voted for the increase in taxes. I’ve looked at the notices that are tacked on houses.”
“I did not vote for the tax levy,” District 4’s Sandra Salgado repeated. She told of excesses in the budgets of “political figures.”
Salgado was told by a colleague, “That’s a great question, but you’re not the one to ask it.” She said the question involved “over $600,000.”
She said she “put a stop to elected officials salaries” going up.
“The office pays what it pays,” she observed. [Most county officials get about $100,000 a year.]
District 3 challenger Mary McClellan, first on her ballot, had this response:
“A resounding, ‘No.’
“Hold any County Board member responsible for the votes they made.”
District 2 incumbent Donna Kurtz said,
“I voted for the tax levy because I believe in fiscal responsibility.
“We had labor contract’s and inflation of 1.5%. and that [was] what the tax levy [increase] was [for].
“Others wanted to use money earmarked for capital to pay for the [operating] expenses. That was [irresponsible].
Linda Kvidera Murphy of District 4 put in her two cents worth: “I also don’t support the increase in taxes. I think County Board members should be held accountable [for their votes].
“I did support the tax increase,” admitted District 2 incumbent Jim Heisler.
He explained he started out in opposition to the increase, but “wages got us corralled where we couldn’t back out of it.”
Crystal Lake Park District Commissioner Mike Walkup, a challenger in District 3, expresses his opposition to the hike.
“I agree with Cal [Skinner]. Set the number you have and [make] that number the [levy].
“The economy is not going to get better quickly,” he predicted.
District 3 aspirant Jim Schlader was the last Friday participant to answer the tax question.
“People I talk to out on the streets are asking whether they’re going to but food or [pay taxes].
“I would not vote for that increase.”
Missing from the event were District 2 candidate Ken Koehler, the Chairman of the McHenry County Board. Koehler voted for the tax hike.
Among the missing from District 3 was former Board member Linda (Lyn) Orphal.
Not taking part from District 4 were incumbent Sue Draffkorn, plus challenger Robert “Bob” M. Martens, Sr. Draffkorn voted in favor of the tax hike.
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What District 5 and 6 candidates said Saturday night tomorrow.