ALAW Questionnnaire for Andrew Gasser

I’m going to put up as many of the Alliance for Land, Agriculture and Water questionnaires as I can get to.

Endorsed candidates are

  • District 1: Andrew Gasser
  • District 2: Donna Kurtz
  • District 3: Nancy Gonsiorek
  • District 4: John Hammerand
  • District 5: John Jung Jr. and Zane Seipler
  • District 6: Ersel Schuster

Here is District 1’s Andrew Gasser’s:

ALAW County Board Candidates Survey: Primary Election March 18, 2014

THE ROLE OF COUNTY GOVERNMENT

1.What scenario would necessitate an increase in the county’s tax levy and what are your parameters for determining the magnitude of that increase?

Andrew Gasser

Andrew Gasser

I do not see a scenario where we need to increase the county’s tax levy. I see a scenario where we need to lower the county’s tax levy and reduce the footprint of county government in our lives.McHenry County has the 29th highest tax rate in the nation. We do not need to be number 28.

2. Do you agree with the recently passed 2014 legislative agenda of the county including support for legislation that grants counties more permissive authority and the ability to expand non-property tax revenue sources? (Can be found in the January 21, county board meeting packet). Why or why not?

No I do not. It just seems to me that all governments want to do is find new ways to generate revenue and expand the bureaucracy. I cannot subscribe to this. McHenry has an incredibly high foreclosure rate with up to 7.2 percent of homes in a “distressed” status. We should not be finding more things to tax – we should be reducing taxes.

3. Can you identify five specific areas of concern in the Unified Development Ordinance that are being discussed or have recently been discussed in the joint Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning and Development Committee meetings?

Being brutally honest – no. I have looked at the UDO and spoke to two sitting board members about this but I just cannot give you a definitive answer on what concerns me. I do think we need the UDO to make sure we standardize how we approve planning and development. As I understand it, we also have many local zoning boards that do not act with uniformity. In the conversations I have had about the UDO, board members feel this will bring more standardization and uniformity to the zoning process.

4. What areas, if any, of County government could be more efficient and save taxpayers money? If you believe there are services or functions that could be more efficient, how would you (or how have you, if incumbent) formally review County programs to ensure their necessity and improve their efficiency?

We need to modernize McHenry County Government. Our staffs are way too big. We have more employees in McHenry County than Kane County. However, Kane County has over 500,000 people and McHenry County only has 308,000 people. There is something inherently wrong here.

We need to outsource as much as we possibly can to reduce the work force inside the county government. This will reduce our healthcare costs, pension problem, and makes us more efficient and transparent.

Our auditor’s office is using a product that was purchased in 1996 and updated in 2007. It costs more than just money to use. It is going to cost so many more man hours to audit and personally sort records and transactions. We should have a much more robust auditing system that uses the benefits of technology with the human element.

TRANSPARENCY AND COMMITTMENT

5. During past primary elections, candidates for county offices voluntarily filled out the ALAW initiated Addendum to Statement of Economic Interests BEFORE the election. This form is now required once you are elected, but filing it now with us is entirely voluntary. ALAW will not endorse any candidate who does not fill out the form. Will you fill out and file your form with us now?

Yes – it is attached.

I would also add that the only transparency bill to come before the McHenry County Board lost by one vote. My opponent in the primary voted against it and would have voted for it. It is linked on my website.

We need to scrutinize everything and I am only one man. This is why a full open and transparent government is required. This budget is over $250 million dollars and I cannot in good conscience tell you that I know it all. But if everything is easily searchable and online I know there are THOUSANDS of people who can start digging through the county government and find things that need to be reviewed.

6. Tell us why you do or do not think the county board chair should be popularly elected and if the referendum passes, how do you propose to protect the integrity of the election process from big money and special interests?

No I do not support the referendum. I believe, just as the congress does, that the members should elect their chairman. This referendum will allow millionaires to buy elections. But moreover, it will be another tax on the citizens of McHenry as we will create another elected position that garners a salary, pension, and health insurance. 24 board members plus a chairman? No thank you.

7. Have you accepted donations from any organization that does business with the County? If so, please provide details.

None.

8. What have you done to prepare yourself for the office you seek?

I have done a lot of work researching specific areas of interest to me inside the county. I am a details and numbers kind of guy. I like looking and budgets. I did a lot of work looking at the McHenry Mental Health Board. I feel this was a great exercise in learning how governments try to hide wasteful spending in the form of salaries and administration I have attended several county board meetings, spoke at one, and also attended several committee meetings. It was very in the sense that I was able to learn some of the procedures and decorum that is required.

WATER RESOURCES AND /LAND USE

9. What do you foresee as a solution when the county population reaches a level that the aquifers can no longer support? Alternatively what do you see as a way to avoid this crisis?

Yes – I do. I have spoke to this issue with several very knowledgeable board members and elected officials in Washington. McHenry County cannot get water from Lake Michigan. This is by Treaty! Therefore, we have to rely on our open spaces inside the county to recharge our aquifers.

Therefore it is incredibly important that the Planning and Development Committee make sure that we understand how the aquifers recharge. I am not a geologist but I do have friends at NASA who have explained the process to me. The more porous and open spaces we have – the quicker aquifers recharge. This is why things such as gravel driveways and parking lots are not as bad as people think.

If we simply develop McHenry County as a business and residential county and remove the agriculture – at some point we run out of water. I do not have the information to know when this will happen, but it will.

10. Would you oppose any land use change that would exceed a locally recharged aquifer’s capacity?

Yes. Why on earth would I allow development that we cannot support? I would not.

11. Do you support redistributing groundwater from water-rich areas to areas that have over drawn their groundwater?

On the surface: No.

Why should we reward Cary or Crystal Lake for over developing?

On the other hand, we have a lot of existing homes and businesses already here. Do we simply just cut them off? It’s a hard answer that I need a lot more information to make an informed decision on. I do think our local leaders and planners need to wake up and realize that you just cannot plop down a 250 unit residential subdivision and not take into account the water.

12. Do you agree with the proposition that new development should be located where infrastructure exists, to minimize the extension of new roads, utilities and services, protect farmland and water recharge areas, and minimize the concurrent tax increases for existing residents?

We need to make McHenry County “Open for Business” by creating areas that generate revenue for the county while at the same time not taxing our land or water. Industrial Parks are an example of this. Many studies show that business’ use much less water than families.

I do believe we should look into making some areas more industrial.

I also believe that people’s property is their property and they should be able to do as they please on their property as long as it is not effecting the rest of us. This is tricky on the western side of the county where I know of several farms and families who are waiting for the sprawl to hit them.

I have seen the effects of over-development right here in Fox River Grove. We, in my opinion,have over developed Foxmoor and the Picnic Grove to generate revenue. While we did generate more revenue the bureaucracy has grown. But worse, we do have flooding issues now. This is a direct result of so much open space not being open now. (I could write a book on this)

13. Should transportation improvements be evaluated based upon their return on investment and prioritized according to this cost/benefit analysis (i.e. Randall Rd. and Rt. 62 intersection)?

For example, do you support the $115 million plan to fix 3½ miles of Randall Road, including the intersection at Route 62? How do you measure the benefit to the taxpayers of this proposed expenditure?

The Randal Road/Algonquin Road CFI is a pork barrel project rammed down the throats of tax payers. What this area shows is the lack of REAL PLANNING from those who served before me.

This $115 million would be much better spent on RT 47 making it a 4 lane highway with direct access to Interstate 90.

You could develop very little land – keep the open spaces for farming and water recharge – grow the revenue stream – and keep McHenry County an agricultural county.

But moreover, I drive this during rush hour and it is not nearly as bad as what some board membrs made it out to be. Furthermore, the projections for population growth are that of fantasy. We would not have that kind of growth in an above average economy.


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