Andrew Gasser: “McHenry County is the 29th most expensive county to live in the nation, not Illinois, in the U.S.”
Joe Gottemoller: “[We need to] hold the line on taxes. The County portion is flat.”
Chuck Wheeler: “I believe in less government and lower taxes. [People tell me,] ‘We can’t afford to live here anymore.'”
John Jung: “[Budget has been] flat for the last three years.”
Those were mentions of finances that I jotted down in the opening statements of Wednesday’s County Board forum.
For the second time running, the McHenry County League of Women Voters did not allow a question on taxes.
While that prevented putting all of the candidates on record with regard to whether they would vote to tax real estate more than now, it did not prevent various candidates from tackling the subject during the question and answer time.
Take, for instance, the first question asked, “What’s the most important issue for your district?”
Andrew Gasser: “Families being able to hang onto their homes. There were 535 foreclosures last year in Cary, Fox River Grove, Algonquin and Barrington Hills. People say,’Andy, our taxes are so high.’ We have to do something. We have to do something. [They’re] causing serious distress.”
Cathy Bergan Schmidt included “…losing their housing as Andrew pointed out.”
Joe Gottemoller pointed out the flat levy for county government and added, “I do wish we could get some of the other taxing bodies to come along with us.”
Arne Waltmire: “Taxes…”
Chuck Wheeler: “My number one concern is the fact that taxes are going up way too much.” He told of a woman who moved to Wisconsin to get away from McHenry County’s high taxes and pledged to “look at the budget with new eyes.”
Nick Chirikos: “I’d like to challenge the notion that property taxes in McHenry County are too high. $70,000 is the average income. The problem is that we don not have enough good paying jobs.”
Comments about taxes were also made in closing statements.
Chuck Wheeler: I’m running to be a champion of the taxpayers.” He pointed to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement floor of the County Jail. “We don’t know if it’s running at a profit.” He told of the $35 million Valley Hi (the County Nursing Home) has in the bank.
John Jung told of saving money by more tightly controlling the budgets of elected officials. “We are budgeting vacant positions no longer.”
Michael Rein said, “The reason I’m running is I felt my money was being wasted.”
Robert Nowak said that the number one reason for his candidacy was to “lower taxes.”
Andrew Gasser pledged not to take a county pension or health insurance and be “fiscally responsible,” viewing the budget with “a fresh set of eyes.”
Cathy Bergan Schmidt challenged Chuck Wheeler’s criticism of Valley Hi’s accumulation of excessive funds. She said the County Board had turned around Valley Hi. “It is a fact it is in the black.” The money that has accumulated, she said, had been approved by referendum. The maximum annual tax is $6 million, she pointed out and “only asking $3 million this year.” She calculated that amounted to about $1 a month for each homeowner.