10304 Braeburn Road, Barrington Hills
Bachelors Degree, , Lake Forest College
Masters Degree, , Illinois Benedictine College
Juris Doctor, , Kent College of Law
Attorney, Self Employed - Stieper Law Offices Ltd
On The Record
Why are you running for county board?
Since 2002, McHenry County government expenditures have more than doubled. McHenry County government expenditures per capita is one of the highest in the entire United States. Since moving in McHenry County in 2001, like you, my wife and I have seen our real estate taxes more than double. These increased expenditures in McHenry County are unprecedented and unless the dynamic of the Board is changed, McHenry County government expenditures will continue to rise. This doubling of county government expenditures occurred during one of the worse economic downturns in our nation’s history. As a result, the residential mortgage foreclosure rate in McHenry County is almost double the average of the mortgage foreclosure rate in the State of Illinois. This out of control spending makes McHenry County an undesirable place for new families and business to locate bringing down further property values decimated by the economy. The skill set I bring to the county board is: (1) independence (2) experience and (3) expertise. I am an independent candidate belonging to no special interest group refusing to engage in team politics. Instead, if elected, I will focus my energy on building a consensus of board members around sound fiscally responsible ideas. I am not a novice to government having served on my Village’s plan commission and zoning board of appeals. As a plan commission member, I assisted in drafting our Barrington Hills’ Comprehensive Plan. As a practicing attorney with a Master’s Degree in Business Administration with more than 20 years of experience in the areas of construction, real estate (including banking, land use and zoning) professional liability and business litigation, I can navigate with relative ease and familiarity financial and legal issues which others on the board might find complex and confusing. I will serve no more than two terms working to restore McHenry County government to place which makes sense to its residents.
What is your top legislative priority if you are elected?
Reduce McHenry County Budget. In these difficult economic times, county government must find meaningful ways to decrease its size and spending by concentrating efforts on necessary and not excessive county government. One of my primary objectives as a Board Member will be to find ways to decease government by bringing greater fiscal discipline to the Board. The first thing I will do is decline to take the medical, dental and pension benefits offered to McHenry County Board members and I will challenge the remainder of the Board to do the same. These full time benefits should not be available for a part-time board member job. This action alone will save county tax payers more than $400,000 per year. It will also send a message to the rank and file that McHenry County government is entering into a new era where fiscal management of tax payer funds comes first. Further reduction of expenditures can come from opening up the bidding process as well as increasing information available on the county website for the public and outside firms to examine. There should be more emphasis on directing funds to meet the “absolute needs” of McHenry County rather than the “wants”.
Where do you stand on the upcoming March referendum to make the County Board chairmanship popularly elected by the voters?
I support the referendum to make the County Board Chairmanship popularly elected by McHenry County voters. I believe that individuals who take the time to vote in McHenry County take the time to educate themselves on the issues. Such an election will give residents an absolute say on who should head the County Board applying for the most part objective criteria like: experience, voting record, priorities, ability, disposition and professional skills. Popular election will take the backroom politics out of the decision which comes naturally from a parliamentary process. By making the chairmanship an elected decision, it will diminish the elitist stature of the Board serving, in part, as a litmus test and notice of what the public believes should be the priorities and expectations of the Board. Democracy in its purest form, although often a messy process, of government.
Do you believe that the County Board – before 2013 – kept an adequate eye on the finances and spending of the McHenry County Mental Health Board? Why or why not?
No. Too much of the money appropriated to the County Mental Health Board was spent on administrative expenses and overhead. It is the County Board which must approve the total appropriation received by the Mental Health Board. For instance, 3 Million Dollars was spent to expand the size of its headquarters in Crystal Lake even though staffing and administration has decreased because of a greater dependency on allocating funds to surrounding agencies who serve the mentally disabled. Further, the Mental Health Board has lost more than a Million Dollars in loans to mental health agencies one of which obtained a discharge order through the Federal Bankruptcy Court. These loans were unsecured, given without obtaining any collateral. In the end, these lost funds failed to reach the intended recipients, the mentally disabled they were intended to serve. While hindsight is 20/20, greater oversight must be taken by the county Board pertaining to the condition of these loans and overhead costs to ensure the needs of the mentally disabled in McHenry County are being adequately served.
Do you believe the county should continue to run Valley Hi Nursing Home, or would you like to see it sold to a private entity?
I would like to explore taking this nursing home private. This is a prime example of county government engaging in activities beyond its mission. This is also an example where the private sector can perform this function cheaper and better. It is interesting to note that once the construction bond was paid for by the taxpayers to construct Valley Hi, tax payers did not see a reduction in their tax bills instead these tax revenues continue to be collected and ostensibly deposited into an account referred to on the financials of Valley Hi as the “Fund Reserve Enhancement” now totaling more than 8 Million Dollars. From what I can tell, this is simply cash on hand at Valley Hi paid for by tax payers last year and this year which sits in a Valley Hi financial account.
What issues would you like to see addressed in the upcoming Unified Development Ordinance?
One issue which I believe is of primary importance to McHenry County is its depleting ground water supply. Having served on the Board of Directors of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust as well as the many years of service on the Plan Commission, I am strongly aware of this issue. While the UDO includes groundwater protection requirements I would like to further examine whether it provides for adequate safeguards for proposed developments around sensitive aquifers and recharge areas. Also consideration should be given whether the UDO should include septic and well requirements. Overall, I would like to see more illustrations and tables making explanation on some of these issues easier as well as a single section in the UDO designated to procedure and process for obtaining variance, special use and land use approval for development.
Do you believe county government should continue to keep its tax levy frozen? Why or why not? And if not, what expenses would you cut to ease the burden on taxpayers?
Focus on county government should be on dramatically reducing spending which will equate to need for less tax revenue. A freeze on the tax levy has not equated to decrease in McHenry County property tax bills when it comes to county spending. By the end of my first term, I would like to see a reduction of the tax levy and a plan for further reductions in the future. Beside, exploring taking Valley Hi private and requesting the Board decline accepting medical, dental and pension benefits for this part time job, serious reduction cannot be obtained without examining labor costs. While McHenry County has more than 200,000 less residents than neighboring Kane County, McHenry County has more than 40 employees. Further, expenditures on welfare and health in McHenry County far exceed that of Kane County and I think it is worth exploring why. I would like to introduce a process of “0” based budgeting where every government expense is justified based upon “need” rather than simply tacking on an automatic increase every year simply because it has always been done that way. The Board should look at possible outsourcing of jobs to the private sector where it can especially where it can be done cheaper without compromising service. Most importantly, bidding on all county projects should be done openly and competitively. Board members should be required to not only recuse him or herself on any vote to approve a contractor but should identify the basis for the recusal.