ALAW Questionnaire for Donna Kurtz

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
  • District 4: John Hammerand
  • District 5: John Jung Jr. and Zane Seipler
  • District 6: Ersel Schuster

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


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?

Donna Kurtz

Donna Kurtz

The economic impact of inflation is an overriding reason why tax levy increases may be justified.  In addition, I will be assessing the health of County Government cash reserves, tax revenues, any extraordinary, and the union labor expense situation. The economic environment of McHenry County, i.e. the economic health of property values, job growth, and new business growth are a few of the variables that should be considered when assessing whether or not a tax levy increase should occur.

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?

**I supported the overall 2014 legislative agenda.

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

  • Agri-tourism – I am concerned that we are allowing non-local product and products to be sold, and thus supporting a cottage commercial industry that does not necessary have anything to do with local farming and agriculture. This could lead to spot development.
  • Contiguous Development – I would like to see development evolve from the municipalities in a hub & spoke approach. This prevents urban sprawl and protects our precious recharge areas for replenishing our groundwater supplies. Part 1 of 2.
  • Anti-Spot Development – I would like to restrict housing developments from occurring in open areas that are not connected to municipal sewer and water. Part 2 of 2.
  • Capacity limitations – I would like the UDO to begin to formulate a limit on the numbers of people and business activities that can be supported in McHenry County given our restricted access to any water sources other than groundwater.
  • Given recent passage of video gambling and liberal access to alcohol consumption with the passage of the winery alcohol licenses (I voted against both!) the UDO must ensure that these revenue drivers do not initiate the opportunity for restaurant / bar development that will infringe on open farm land and lead to urban sprawl.

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?

  • The Sheriff’s Jail operations need to be thoroughly audited and if there are gross areas of inefficiencies then the County Finance & Audit Committee to recommend budget adjustments commensurate with the potential inefficiencies, i.e. looks like there is a trend in declining jail populations, but the cost of running the jail continues to increase.
  • The Randall Road project is based on CMAP growth numbers that CMAP has now admitted are not accurate and maybe as much as 40% higher than they should be. Thus, the entire premise of the $115 Million Randall Road project is questionable. In addition, the current $15Million spending just approved by the County Board (I did not support!) contains millions in unnecessary spending that could be used inappropriately. The increased maintenance of the proposed Randall Road improvements, as well as the negative impact of these road improvements on the business environment will add millions of additional tax burden on taxpayers annually.


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? (Form attached with mailing instructions.)


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?

  • I think a 4 year term is too long so I won’t vote for this. I did support the County putting this on the ballot so the voters can decide.
  • I won’t support candidates who use big money and who are involved with special interests that hurt our county.

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

Yes, Alliance Contracting for $250 in November. Chuck has been a long-time friend of my mom’s and I like the Ruth family. However, I have been thinking about this situation, and I don’t know if I will accept this type of contribution in the future.

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

Being a 3 year County Board Member, reaching out to subject matter experts, attending additional meetings, going to community events, reading about issues, and always, always questioning how both the County, and I can do a better job.


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, there is a limit to our water supplies. I think we need to set parameters regarding our limits as part of our UDO.

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


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

No. For example, it is not feasible or legal to ‘export water’ from Lake Michigan. Conservation of water resources must become a critical part of our McHenry County culture.

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?

Yes!! I believe in contiguous development!!

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?

This project is an example of creating a problem to justify an unjustifiable solution. I am so against this project!! Here are two statements which I shared with the Board just before the vote for the Randall Road Improvement Project:

Statement 1:

First, I want to thank Wally and McDOT for the detailed analysis of the alternativesassessed to address Randall Road traffic concerns. Two most viable options are Alternative 3 – Additional Left Turn Lanes at Algonquin and Alternative 4 – CFI at Algonquin. The performance and cost data from the McDOT Detailed Evaluation Results provides important insight.

(Wally, when was this document provided to the Transportation Committee?)

First, if we do nothing to address these congestion issues the travel time for a vehicle traveling from County Line Road to Ackman Road corridor (distance of 2.6 miles) will be 28.9 minutes. Clearly that is not acceptable. Adding left turn lanes and several other options shownin Alternative 3/Left Turn Lanes reduces travel time to 11 min. If we select Alternative 4/CFI we reduce travel time to 9.3 minutes—a difference of 1.7 minutes—approx. 100 seconds.

The problem is that when we look at the construction costs the CFI is $79M versus $59M for the left turn lane or Alternative 3. The additional costs incurred by the CFI: $5 Million for land acquisition and $1.75 Million for Matthewson bring the total cost of the CFI to $85.75. So the CFI costs $26.75 Million dollars more and is 30% more expensive than the accepted conventional approach. Arguably, the 30+% premium to build a CFI to improve travel time by less than 2 minutes means significant cost for insignificant gain.

We need to be cost effective and fact based in our decisions, and to spend 30% more, to reduce travel time by less than 2 minutes for a solution that the local municipalities do not all support is simply not responsible. People will challenge those votes for a Roll Royce solution when a Chevy solution was all that is needed.

The public is looking at how and why we spend, more than they ever have. They have a right to be suspicious about extraordinary capital spending when the facts and the performance do not justify the expense. This vote today is just the beginning of public questioning that will erupt if a responsible fiscally conservative decision is not made. People will challenge those votes for a Roll Royce solution when a Chevy solution was all that is needed.

Statement 2

The land acquisition for the CFI involves purchasing and levelling two healthy tax generating businesses that employ 20 to 20 people. Also, let’s not forget that the Phillips 66 gas station generates a property taxes and motor fuel taxes of as much as $1 million annually. In the decades to come eliminating these businesses costs our community lost revenue and lost employee income in hundreds of millions.


ALAW Questionnaire for Donna Kurtz — 3 Comments

  1. I can’t read every story but you have insight to the local politics.

    Thanks Cal

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