I had the privilege of being on the Batavia-Geneva-St. Charles Chambers of Commerce annual program last week with Joe McMahon to discuss county business. Joe gave an excellent overview of his State’s Attorney’s Office and I gave a general update.
The theme of my portion of the presentation was building trust by keeping promises with constituents. In addition to “working hard, staying honest and using common sense,” it is our county team’s mission to freeze the property tax levy for as long as we can (now in our fourth year), to treat all people as respectfully as possible, and to advance management best practices.
The three means to these ends are transparency, balanced and inclusive leadership from board members, and empowering board members and countywide elected officials. As previous Chairman’s Corner articles have addressed, we have opened up county processes regarding all financial information, appointments to advisory boards and commissions, and communications in Kane County Connects. Our committee chairmen represent a competent and diverse cross-section of the board’s political-party, gender and racial/ethnic makeup.
What I’m most excited about and grateful for is how so many individual board members are rising to the opportunity to lead major efforts that help our 523,000 constituents. Although I don’t have space to list all the good work that’s being done, here are some examples:
(1) Theresa Barreiro — Fiscal Discipline
As we work our way through building consensus of how we hold the line on spending and taxes, it takes courage and intelligence to say “no” sometimes and to identify better ways and locate common ground for compromise within certain boundaries.
(2) Brian Pollock and Susan Starrett — Legislative Initiative
It is nearly breathtaking to see the adverse effects some unfunded mandates from Springfield and Washington, D.C., have on the county’s budget and smooth operation. These two board members are leading our collective effort to save tax money and time … and doing it without paid lobbyists!
(3) Cristina Castro — Judiciary and Public Safety Policies
Nearly 65 percent of our General Revenue Fund spending takes place in our court system and in the Sheriff’s Office. Spending self-discipline and effective collaboration lead to optimizing results in this area. We are fortunate to have the good work of our Chief Judge Brawka, Circuit Clerk Tom Hartwell, State’s Attorney McMahon and many others to rely upon as they bring our court case management system into the computerized 21st century with assistance from IT Director Roger Fahnestock. Innovative approaches to funding essential county assets like the Qualifying Range at the jail relieves property taxpayers.
(4) Drew Frasz — Progress in Transportation
As we continue to move forward on the two-decades-old challenge of building the Longmeadow Parkway, the coordination of consensus in nine communities and two counties along with their surrounding areas led to a $45 million contribution to the effort from the state and federal governments … Your taxes coming back home! Salt supply management during the past two harsh winters literally “saved us tons.”
(5) John Hoscheit — 5-Year Financial Planning for Both Operations and Capital
John’s patient leadership and advocacy for longer term planning, assisted by Financial Officer Joe Onzick’s expertise and dedication, help to keep our eyes on future success.
(6) Dr. Monica Silva — Stability in Animal Control
Along with our excellent Public Health Director Barb Jeffers, steady and consistent guidance in this area fraught with emotion in caring for animals, has allowed us to absorb the challenges that come with finding our way to success. Within this next year, we pay off the mortgage on the shelter … Yippee, pass the dog biscuits!
(7) Deb Allan, T.R. Smith, and Joe Haimann — Board Camaraderie
Kindness, good humor and generous spirit go a long way in building our public interactions!
(8) Kurt Kojzarek and Ron Ford — Our Future Is Just Around the Corner
Kurt is heading up our effort to develop the next generation of quantum recycling and garbage disposal with waste-to-fuel legislation and technology. Along with Roger Fahnestock again, Ron is leading our effort to “light up Kane County” in a good way by optimizing the use of our huge capacity of fiber-optic network to increase productivity for area employers and public partners (for a reasonable users fee).
(9) Becky Gillam and Theresa Barreiro (again) — Jobs!
Our effort to dovetail our county jobs initiative into regional competitiveness, focused on advanced manufacturing, exports and transportation throughout, is picking up steam.
(1o) Mike Kenyon and John Martin — Good, Old-Fashion Common Sense and Wise Counsel
These are just the beginning of good and talented work being done by board members, countywide elected officials and our dedicated staff of 1,250 employees on behalf of Kane County residents.
If you have ideas or areas where you think we ought to concentrate more resource (but always within the property tax freeze), please just pick up the phone and call me at 630/232-5931. I return all my calls.
Christopher J. Lauzen
Kane County Board Chairman
Read More Chairman’s Corner
- County’s Quantum Leap: Waste-to-Fuel Technology
- My Choice for District 8 Appointment is Maria Vazquez
- Kane County’s Inclusive Democracy Inspired By King, Lincoln
- What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?
- How Kane County Will Get More Jobs, Higher Wages
- An Open Letter of Encouragement to Our New Governor
- A New Year Is Born: 8 Opportunities for 2015
- Kane County’s Top 10 Achievements in 2014
- A Christmas Wish for Our Citizens and County Staff
- County Budget Process — Ultimate Responsibility With Limited Authority