Each year, the county board battles to create a balanced budget. What actions can the board take to minimize the tax burden on residents while not sacrificing services?
Maintaining and improving needed services to our citizens should be our most important tasks as elected officials, and improving, not diminishing, the sources of revenue to provide these services should be our goal. Of greater importance are the Health care services (particularly for senior citizens and our families with younger children), and our safety and security services through the County Sheriff's department. These areas and other County services have been reduced and underfunded to dangerously low levels. A program and policy to add and expand businesses, increase new population efforts, and fund programs that provide larger income streams than their cost, should be the way we view the future for Grundy County.
Grundy County has become a favorite target for solar farm companies setting up shop on local farm land. What impact do you think these green energy facilities will have and do you see it as a net gain or loss for the county?
Illinois has recently become a "favorite target" for companies constructing solar electric generating farms of 1 megawatt in size or larger because the Illinois General Assembly passed the Future Energy Jobs Act in late 2016 and then added more stringent and defined rules early this year with the unanimous passage of SB486 and SB2591. Grundy County has become one of the favored locations for these companies, working in conjunction with farmers that voluntarily agree to lease a portion of their land for one of the projects.
Earlier, Illinois had pledged to produce at least 25% of its electric generation through renewable energy sources by the year 2030, one of which is solar farms. These efforts promise to be a major gain for the County and its residents, both rural and city. Owners of the land will receive annual payments, just as those that permitted wind turbines, temporary construction jobs will boom and permanent jobs will remain, municipal electric companies and rural co-ops will benefit, State-mandated taxation of the projects will direct a sizeable amount of new money directly to our local schools and public service agencies, and Illinois will come much closer to its 25% renewable energy goals.
Expansion from the Chicago metro area is creeping towards Grundy County. Do you think this could be good or bad for the county? What actions should the county take to either encourage the growth or help stave it off?
Despite panic claims in the news about people fleeing Illinois, the City of Chicago (and surrounding Cook County) are building and expanding modern high-rise housing at an amazing rate for the ever-expanding population of younger families and empty-nesters who want the convenience of city living and services. Outside of that area, the communities in the collar counties are improving and constructing new medium-rise housing and businesses in their old "historic" downtown areas to encourage more young families to move in. Aurora has become the second-largest city in Illinois and Joliet and Naperville are not far beyond.
Evidence that these modernizing efforts have spilled over the Grundy County line is scant, but balanced and thoughtful plans for expansion and population growth should never be overlooked, particularly in the City of Morris itself. A serious look should be given to the modern improvements recently being made in the downtowns of suburbs like DesPlaines, Arlington Heights, Plainfield, Orland Park, Tinley Park, and others in the next ring of counties. We should certainly not be fighting growth, but should be looking to properly plan for and improve our city and county financial status and customer base by the influx of desirable new residents and businesses. Morris is surely not a suburb of Chicago and Grundy County is not a collar county but be prepared; it may be some day.
What projects within the county would you like to see addressed during your term, should you be elected?
The projects and solutions outlined in the answers above indicate the many things that should be addressed by a forward-thinking county board member (and city council member and all concerned citizens). But beyond those mostly municipal and financial issues, the County Board must also take every opportunity to protect and preserve our rural and farm community. Not only in their every-day practical needs such as road and bridge maintenance and necessary rural services such as available health and medical care, sheriff's office police and fire district protection, and the proper funding to provide for these needs, but also at the higher level, speaking out against the harmful state and national efforts, policies and tariffs that have harmed our farmers and the markets at which they can profitably sell their crops.