Bachelor's Degree, Elementary Education, Trinity Christian College
Elementary School Teacher/Paraprofessional, Kaneland D302
Married, Sarah Herron
On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
The combination of my education, work experience and service – both overseas in the military and in our local community as a volunteer – make me an outstanding candidate to serve as Village Trustee. Currently I enjoy being a teacher in the Kaneland school system. I have also learned the values of discipline and service after ten years in the Army. For the four years between those jobs I combined my time working as an account manager for a major manufacturer, completing my college degree and mentoring at risk elementary school students. I am passionate about serving.
What are your top three priorities if elected?
1) Accountability - I believe the village can become more financially accountable to the taxpayers of Sugar Grove by focusing on user friendly financial reporting. The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ended April 2012 is over 150 pages long, much of which is very difficult for a non-accountant to understand. I would advocate for the development of a much simpler document. The Government Finance Officers Association recommends a “popular financial report” as part of their best practice policies. A popular financial report would provide the same basic information in a way that would be much more useful to the general public. 2) Continue the focus on a more business friendly environment in Sugar Grove. In recent years big businesses like Chase Bank, Jewel Foods, McDonald’s, and Walgreens have established successful new locations here. I am encouraged that medium sized companies like Aldi, American Heartland Bank and West Suburban Bank have set up shop here. Those operations generate property taxes, sales taxes and local jobs. Because I believe that small businesses are equally important as an economic driver, I am equally optimistic to see food stores like Subway, Jimmy John’s, Rosatti’s and King Wok doing well too. Businesses providing a variety of health and beauty services are filling in the new developments along Route 47 providing convenience for our local residents and the opportunity for them to become local consumers. 3) Investigate potential cost savings through the re-issuance of general obligation bonds. Recently the Kane County Forest Preserve District was able to save taxpayers millions of dollars in interest by re-issuing certain bond issues through an innovative bidding program. Kane County is in the process of evaluating similar options that could save between two and three million dollars, depending upon market conditions. Not all of the Village’s bond issues would be viable options for such a program, but it is quite possible that some would qualify and potentially save tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments annually. I would advocate that a qualified financial advisor would be identified for investigating such a program.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
The simple, politically correct answer for any candidate is yes, I would support a freeze of the levy imposed by our taxing district. The simple answer though is somewhat misleading. I would absolutely appreciate relief from rising property taxes. My wife and I have seen the property taxes rise on our home by 11.6% over the past five years. At that same time the value of our house has decreased. The assessment on the property has decreased by 15.3%. Clearly this represents some sort of disconnect. In the interest of full disclosure I am a candidate for a position as a Trustee for the Village of Sugar Grove, and it seems only fair to focus on the levy approved by that board. The combined levies imposed for the Sugar Grove Village and Sugar Grove Village Pension increased by only .4% last year. Altogether there are 20 taxing districts represented on the property tax bills we paid in 2012. If you live in Sugar Grove the vast majority of your property tax bill comes from districts not controlled by the village trustees. In order for me to more fully understand the levy process, I have followed seminars put on by Mark Armstrong the Kane County Supervisor of Assessments. Like many people I was surprised to learn that each levy essentially represents the operating budget projected to be required for the operations of a particular taxing district, and the levy itself has very little direct relationship to assessed valuations or the housing market. The entire tax extension process is much more detailed, but essentially the tax rate necessarily increases when overall assessments decrease to allow the levy to be maintained. The real long term solution to the problem goes much further than simply freezing the levy. I believe true zero based budgeting techniques can be a much more effective tool in the battle to achieve fiscal responsibility and save taxpayer dollars.
What one decision by the village board do you most disagree with and why?
Despite the fact that sales tax revenues have increased significantly as compared to the budget, the Village elected to raise resident and non-resident water and sewer service charge by 7.5%. In part, the decision was made as a result of lower than projected usage trends. Ironically, the lower than projected usage was partially a result of virtually no residential growth since 2006. Although I support a well-considered commercial development plan, I understand that residential property provides the overwhelming majority of property tax revenues to the Village. I believe the Trustees have an obligation to be responsive to the needs of our community’s taxpayers.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
To be fair, the village board has achieved several positive accomplishments. In light of the overall ongoing budget problems in Springfield, especially those decisions which have led to an unfunded pension liability of an estimated $97 billion, I am pleased to read the most current CAFR for the Village which shows that Sugar Grove has met its pension payments in a timely fashion. Aside from the obvious problem, the State’s unfunded pension liability has already caused Illinois to become the lowest rated state in the country by Moody’s. As a result the State has to pay a higher interest rate for any general obligation bonds that must be issued. Indirectly, and to a lesser extent, the State’s financial woes also impact local government in the same way.
Why should voters elect you to office?
In addition to the experience and qualifications listed in the first question, I will bring some other very important qualities to the Village Board. Characteristics such as independence, common sense and a fresh perspective will help energize the efforts of the Trustees. Perhaps of even greater importance are those things I won’t bring to the Village Board. I have no personal political agenda. So I am only responsible to the taxpayers. I have no preconceived ideas as to what will, or will not work. So I am willing to consider all options. I have no potential conflicts of interest. So I will gladly publicize my Statement of Economic Interests for anyone to review. I do have a vested interest in Sugar Grove. This is the community my wife and I chose to be our home. In a few weeks we are expecting our first child, a son. Naturally we are excited to be parents, and I am committed to making Sugar Grove the best possible community for my family and for yours. I would greatly appreciate your support in the upcoming election.
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