Donna Kurtz answers the Alliance of Land, Agriculture and Water’s Questionnaire below. She is running for re-election in District 2.
ALAW County Board Candidates Survey: 2012 Primary Election
A. Land Use
1. Do you agree that new development should be located where infrastructure exists, to minimize the extension of new roads, utilities and services, and protect farmland and water recharge areas? Yes
2. If elected, will you support permanent protection of agricultural land and the agricultural industry in the County? Yes
3. Do you agree or disagree that new rural development costs more for the extension of infrastructure (roads, water, sewer and services) than it brings to the County in taxes and that those extra costs are passed on to the existing taxpayers? Yes
B. Water Resources
1. Would you oppose any land use change that would exceed a locally recharged aquifer’s capacity? Yes
2. If elected will you enforce use of the SARA – Sensitive Aquifer Recharge Areas map developed by the County Water Resources Department, as a determining factor in every land use change decision? Yes
3. Do you support redistributing groundwater from water-rich areas to areas that have over drawn their groundwater? (Ideally municipalities should manage their own wells so redistribution should never happen.) As a last resort
4. In your opinion, will McHenry County be able to get Lake Michigan water? No
C. The Role of County Government
1. Should the county provide support services to municipal governments, for example issuing and enforcing municipal building permits, administering and enforcing the Storm Water ordinance? No
2. Do you support a county housing program where the county purchases, constructs, remodels, rents, sells homes throughout the county and in municipalities? (People like the HUD and Ill) No (but it exists!)
3. Do you support a county bus program, where the county takes over responsibility for established service between select cities and townships? No (but it exists!)
4. Should the county health department report to the county board as opposed to an independent board of directors? (Actually, having Health Dept report into the County Administrator would provide more accountability while minimizing political meddling. It is important that the Health Department have balance in addressing public health issues and in being accountability to the public.) No.
5. Do you think county government should increase expenditures and the scope of its activities, which will increase taxes to its residents? NO!!!
D. Transparency and Commitment
1. County board records indicate that the average number of meetings necessary for attendance by a County Board Member is 8. This includes two full board meetings a month and two meetings a month for each committee (generally three) the member is assigned. Are you able and willing to make the commitment to represent your constituents to this extent? Yes, I do that & then some!
2. During the last primary election 32 candidates for county offices voluntarily filled out the ALAW initiated Statement of Economic Interests BEFORE the election. This form is now required once you are elected, but we need to know before we elect you. Will you follow suit and file yours with us now? (Form attached with mailing instructions.) Yes
3. Do you agree that all scheduled county meeting agendas and minutes, including committee and sub-committees, should be posted on the County web site? Yes!
4. Would you have voted to raise the county board members salaries? I was not happy about the choices we faced. However, actions initiated by the previous board led to a two-tier pay level and provided automatic CPI increases. The automatic increases have been eliminated as have the two-tier pay levels. Yes
5. Would you have voted to increase the real estate tax levy by 1.5% thus increasing the amount of real estate tax collected by the county by $1.1 ml.? Given that government still faces increases that it cannot control, i.e. inflation and union pay raises, etc., County would be using “credit card” budgeting, since strategic and substantial budget cuts (of more than $1.5 Million) could have been agreed upon in the months, or even weeks before the tax levy vote. Yes
E. Short Answer.Only the number of words indicated will be published in the response report. (please add a page if you need more room, but remember that we can only print the number of words indicated and reserve the right to edit your response for that reason. Thank you.)
1.If you are elected to serve the residents of McHenry County, what external state and local agencies do you think are important for the county to liaison with and how would you make sure that information is flowing both ways with that agency? If you are currently serving and are an appointed liaison, please tell us what agency you are assigned and how you accomplish effective two-way communication. (50 words)
Liaisons should be trained to set expectations regarding their role, and in communicating County expectations of a commission/agency. For example, as a Housing Authority liaison I have communicated how I update my committee on their activities, my availability to facilitate County resources, and my advice regarding upcoming board concerns or direction.
2.By protecting agricultural lands and soil resources, groundwater and its natural recharge can also be protected. What will you do to provide that protection? (50 words)
Conditional use permits must be used as the exception, rather than the rule. Rather, zoning requirements established in the UDO should provide direction so conditional use is not the preferred approach for most zoning situations. Secondly, new development should be limited to contiguous development to interface with existing infrastructure. Spot development must end!
3.Most municipalities in the county have their own economic development commissions or committees. Economic development has to occur where there is existing infrastructure. The county funds the private McHenry County Economic Development Corporation ($635,985. for the 2009-2012 term) to create development in the county outside of municipalities. Is this a good investment of taxpayer money? (50 words)
Our EDC has provided many good learning and social venues to promote business growth, as well as providing data and outreach to various industries and businesses in our county. However, promoting development in unincorporated areas is counter to sound groundwater protection practices if not implemented properly. Further discussion if needed.
4.Do you think Fleming Road, Alden Road and other county roads that do not serve highly developed commercial areas, need to be widened and “improved” at this time? (50 words)
McDOT must stop developing transportation solutions for future need projections that may or may not happen materialize. Infrastructure exceeding existing road footprint such as Alden or Fleming, or traffic signal placement at Fleming & Route 120 is frighteningly wasteful and intrudes unnecessarily on neighbors and travelers alike.
5.What weight should you as a county board member give the opinions of citizens affected by zoning decisions, special use permits and road projects? (50 words)
Concerns of municipalities, townships, or villages; as well as local neighbors must always be a high priority. My philosophy is to look toward those who already reside in an area and to place special priority on their input, well-being, and property value. Their input should be respected and valued.
6.What in your background qualifies you to serve the public as a county board representative and what do you intend to accomplish if elected to the County Board. You may also use this space to provide additional information regarding any of the “yes / no” answers given above. (100 words)
In completing my first year on the County Board I have brought a fresh, financially oriented perspective. My professional experience in information technology and management has helped me to assess and recommend business-based solutions to address County government organizational issues, financial / budgeting concerns, and technology implementations. Secondly, I always place the interests of my constituents first and can be trusted to make decisions that are balanced and thoughtfully considered. Thirdly, I support a democratic-based decision making process from a diversity of opinions so that the best solutions can be developed and implemented.