Chairman’s Corner: A New Year Is Born In Kane County — Here Are 8 Opportunities for 2015
The Kane County Board and our entire staff is approaching the challenges and opportunities of 2015 with all the curiosity and enthusiasm of a happy newborn!
In the final analysis, it is my responsibility and the responsibility of every board member, countywide elected official, manager and frontline county staff member this year to continue the process of re-establishing trust and confidence in the minds of our constituents, and to insure that the public-service values that have made America a model for the world are practiced right here in Kane County government.
Citizens we serve want honest, competent and limited government. Open government gives us our best chance for honesty. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
Our ability to do good work at the county lies in the proper application of the committee system and having an appropriate number of qualified people involved in making decisions for 523,000 residents. “No one of us is smarter than all of us working cooperatively.”
We will hold on to the limits and spirit of the property tax levy freeze for as long as we can. “Living within our means without asking property taxpayers for more.”
As time goes on this year, I will do my best to more-fully describe the following initiatives, challenges and opportunities in future Chairman’s Corner messages:
(1) Pursue Innovation and Improvement in Healthcare Benefits for Kane County Residents
Using our collective resources at the county as an initial laboratory to “do things better,” we have to break the cycle of double-digit increases in costs and government controls over some of the most intimate personal and family decisions that we make in our lives. We have to restore employees’ access to information and discretion to be intelligent consumers of their own healthcare.
Hopefully, successful innovations from what we learn and do will spread to large employers and small businesses.
(2) Figure Out Fair and Frugal Ways to Pay for Necessary Capital Projects
(3) Waste-to-Fuel Technology
We have huge financial and environmental protection incentives to develop the next generation of waste recycling and disposal. This multi-year challenge will require state legislation, adoption of successful conversion of waste-to-fuel technology and creative public-private cooperative development financing.
(4) Pay Off Animal Control Shelter Mortgage
(5) Continue to Substantially Reduce Unfunded Pension and Healthcare Liabilities
These obligations are bankrupting state and local governments across the country. The problem is especially acute in Illinois due to state legislation, lack of political will and absence of financial prudence.
However, two years ago, Kane County’s unfunded pension liability was more than $49 million but has now been reduced by approximately 25 percent. This protects taxpayers by lowering annual expenditures when earnings on saved investments displace taxpayer sacrifices. “Interest and dividends earned on savings” are better than “property taxes paid” to meet these obligations.
(6) Continue to Protect Nature and Beauty in Kane County by Coordinated Planning
(7) Strengthen Relations Among Citizens, Board Members and All Staff
We need to continue to debate issues effectively so that we generate problem-solving options and avoid unintentional errors, but we should not embarrass ourselves in public discourse and risk making a mockery out of our portion of American democracy.
(8) Amplify the Message of Good Government
Please help us disseminate important information about county decisions and conditions that affect your lives by sending friends, neighbors and family to our website and asking them to subscribe to the Kane County Connects newsletter, just as you do.
A long time ago, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations, “Waste no more time arguing about what a good man/woman should be . . . Be one!” As we launch into 2015, this seems like appropriate advice. Now, it’s time to get back to work on your behalf.
Kane County Board Chairman