The Homer Horizon 021617
8 | February 16, 2017 | The Homer Horizon election 2017 homerhorizon.com Trustee candidates for primary express views Thomas Czaja, Editor Later this month, the Feb. 28 Consolidated Republican Primary race will take place for the Homer Township Board. For the primary, current members of the Homer Township Board seeking reelection will include Supervisor Pam Meyers, Clerk Linsey Sowa, Township Assessor Karen Szynkowski, Road District Commissioner Mike De Vivo and Trustees Tom Fijan, Edward Kalas and John Kruczek. Vicki Bozen, the other current trustee on the Homer Township Board, will challenge Meyers for supervisor in the primary. Others running in the February contest include Cindy Kedzierski for clerk, Bob LePretre for road distirct commissioner and George Offord, Ann Crane, Amber Morrison, Debra Poczatko and Brent Porfilio for trustee. Szynkowski is running unopposed in the primary for assessor, while no candidates filed to run for the role of tax collector in that contest. Candidate questionnaires were sent to the candidates, who were given equal opportunity to fill them out for publication. Their responses appear in alphabetical order by surname. This issue features questionnaires for trustee candidates after supervisor, clerk and road district commissioner candidates were featured last issue. Since Szynkowski is running unopposed in the primary, she will not have a questionnaire at this time. Winners of the primary will advance to the April 4 Consolidated Election. As per 22nd Century Media’s editorial policy, we do not endorse candidates. The deadline for any letters to the editor pertaining to the local primary has passed. No editorial election coverage of any kind will be published in the Thursday, Feb. 23 issue. *denotes incumbent Homer Township Board Trustee (8 for 4 four-year seats) Name: Ann Crane Occupation: Hairstylist Political Experience: Created and was chairman of Oak Forest Youth Commission (1996-1998), anchored Oak Forest News Channel 43 Crane What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? We need to promote Homer Township in a positive manner so we can attract not only new business to our area to help us lower our taxes, but also new residents who would want to raise their families here. When I worked for the news channel, I was able to see how the community works with business and families together. I would like to bring a news channel Name: Tom Fijan* Occupation: Retired Engineer and Business Owner Political Experience: Homer Township Trustee and Chairman of Open Space Committee Fijan What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? We have seven parks in Homer Township, as well as a dog park and the Trantina Farm. These all supply a valuable resource to the Township and the surrounding communities. To me the most important issues in Homer Township are taxes, services, and governmental consolidation. It is always the job of the Township officials that are the stewards of the Township, and, any government entity, to keep taxes low and to spend your monies wisely. The money we spend is your money, not ours. We do this by careful review and spending habits that ensure we get the most bang for here to promote our area so everyone can see what we have to offer. Transparency and streamlining operations in any business keeps it running in an efficient and effective manner, and this is how government should be run. Citizens need to be aware of what is happening in their community and can offer insights on their wants and needs. This is what is going to help us grow and provide amenities that are essential to provide positive satisfaction. Open space is an area that I feel should be utilized by the Homer Township citizens. We need to put in place walking paths, bird feeders, planting and other features that will attract our citizens to utilizing these areas as opposed to them just laying empty. your buck. As to services, Homer Township supports the Lockport/Homer Township FISH Food Pantry. We have a senior housing complex, as well as many senior activities. We also have athletic fields and facilities for football, baseball, soccer, lacrosse, tennis and fishing. By the consolidation of government services — the fire district, the Highway Department and the County police — we save the residents money (taxes) and maximize the quality of the services provided to Homer Township and Homer Glen. In closing, most of the opposition candidates have never attended a Township meeting or have any idea how the Township government is run. The one current member of the Township board that is running against us generally comes to the meetings unprepared and ready to vote “no” on business. Is this the type of person/people you want to run your Township and spend your money? Name: Edward L. Kalas* Occupation: Mortgage Banker Political Experience: elected Precinct Committeeman in 2011; appointed to Homer Community Festival Committee in 2012; appointed Kalas Homer Township Trustee in 2012; elected Homer Township Trustee in 2013 and subsequently took on the duties of Co-Chair of the Parks and Recreation Committee What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? I think it’s important for a growing community like ours to host events that showcase Homer Township while being frugal with taxpayer funds. It’s a great thing working with police, fire, EMA, other elected officials and staff on planning this large event. It brings our community together, as well as bringing folks from our surrounding area into our town, who then return to become patrons of our local establishments. That’s good for local businesses and bringing in sales tax revenue. That Name: John Kruczek* Occupation: Account Manager/Local Business Owner Political Experience: eight years as a Homer Township Trustee; eight years Chairman and Co-Chairman Parks and Rec Committee; two Kruczek years Precinct Committeeman; six years Board of Directors Homer Athletic Club, final two years as President is why I will continue working as a member of the Homer Community Festival Committee. Through this committee’s hard work, the revenues began exceeding expenses by the second year. This year will be the seventh annual Homer Community Fest. While the goal of the festival is not necessarily for profit, I do feel that it is a plus that the event more than pays for itself, while bringing so much fun and entertainment to Homer families, along with thousands of visitors each year. As the community is growing, we need to continue to keep up with park improvements and maintenance and replacement of aging equipment. It will be more important than ever to keep up the level of service that we residents are used to while staying within our budget. As an auditor of Township and road district bills, I will always be mindful of ways to save tax dollars. I recently brought a proposal to the board to apply for an IEPA Grant in the neighborhood of $100,000 to fund a major watershed project to improve water quality in Culver Park pond. Being fiscally responsible is something that we as a Township Board have taken very seriously, and I plan to continue to do so in the future. What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? 1. Taxes are always an issue with everybody wherever they reside, so ways to keep the taxes down while balancing the quality of life and services that people expect is perhaps one of the most important issues at hand. Finding the most effective way to achieve this is multifactorial and dependent upon the realities at hand, as well as the experience of the elected official. By considering all parties, only then can decisions regarding taxes be made for the greater good. 2. As a current Township official, it’s important to constantly recognize and improve services for our seniors as well as the community. Remaining diligent and continually pursing upgrades on behalf of our senior citizens and our Parks and Recreational facilities is a goal I strive for. I am Please see kruczek, 9
homerhorizon.com election 2017 the Homer Horizon | February 16, 2017 | 9 Homer Township Board Trustee (8 for 4 four-year seats) kruczek From Page 8 extremely happy on what we have achieved over the past eight years and look forward to future improvements. 3. Not only am I a Township official, I am also a resident of Homer Township. As a citizen and an official, I am very concerned that other parties feel the necessity to terminate Township government. The truth is some feel the termination of the this government might save a few dollars; however, I contend that ultimately the cost would be heightened significantly once completed. By transferring over responsibilities to our Village, they would undoubtedly be forced to implement a municipal tax which would be much higher than the current Township taxes. In addition, a question must be made as to what would happen to the current services offered by the Township, such as Parks and Rec and senior amenities. Furthermore, divisions such as the Highway Department, home rule, tax caps and annexation costs would also prove to be a major factor of consideration. In the pursuit of truth, please gather all facts from reputable establishments, and do not rely on social media to deliver full certainties. Name: Amber Morrison Occupation: Business Owner — Insurance Professional Morrison Political Experience: Member of The Homer Glen Area Chamber of Commerce (Elected Director), (Committee Co-Chair) of the Chamber Membership and Development Committee, (Committee Chair) of the Chamber of Commerce Business Expo Event Committee, Member of The Orland Park Chamber of Commerce, Former Member of Oak Forest Chamber of Commerce (Committee member Community Awareness), Membership Coordinator for the NetVu Community of AMS360 Users (2016 Member MVP), Former Member of the Illinois River Valley Area Chamber of Commerce What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? • Budget/Revenue and Expenses — Township revenue and expenses, agreed to on an annual basis via the budget, needs a thorough updating, due diligence review and enhancement. It’s very important to brainstorm and think outside of the box for our community. I do not subscribe to the notion, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” I believe that is failure to act behavior that has only created problems and not solutions for most groups. We need to make sure that the overspending and multiple entities duplicating same duties is dramatically reduced and made efficient for our Township. • Services/Operations/Staff — This is related to expenses mentioned previously. We need to look at the services which the Township is providing. We need to evaluate division of duties and how to be the most efficient in relation to our delegated budget. • Intangibles/Resident Input — Promoting research and ideas from Township residents by being extremely active within the community groups. I find it’s our responsibility to be available to our residents to address concerns and moreover ideas they may have that may help the Township and all of its residents. I have found that some politics omit the very people’s opinions that put them in the office in the first place. It’s time for that to change. Name: George Offord Occupation: Not given Political experience: See below Offord What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? Property taxes seem to be the prevailing complaint within Homer Township. The truth of the matter is that on my tax bill, road/bridge and the Township represents 2.5 percent, with road and bridge accounting for 1.5 percent, and the Township accounting for 1 percent. Under the direction of Supervisor [Pam] Meyers and Highway Commissioner [Mike] De Vivo, it appears they have held their budgets to cost of living increases. What I hope to bring is a fresh perspective to the process in order to evaluate expenses and determine if there are any unnecessary costs or whether any efficiencies could be gained by doing things differently. Lately, some governmental agencies have been exploring the possibility of consolidation. DuPage County seems to be at the forefront of this movement. Illinois has more governmental agencies, over 7,000 I believe, than any other state in the nation. The time for consolidation appears to be long overdue as property taxpayers, or homeowners, are increasingly frustrated with their ever rising tax bills. I believe that Homer Township should work with Lockport and Homer Glen to ensure that the functions of government are done in the most efficient manner possible, resulting in the least cost to the homeowner. If any consolidation is possible, it should be put into effect. It is my goal to work to facilitate that process. Services delivered by the Township include but are not limited to roads, senior and youth services. From my discussion with Township officials, most problems originate from individual homeowners with a specific issue and/or complaint. My goal is to ensure that the residents continue to receive prompt and professional assistance in the most timely manner possible. There is a saying that says the room for personal improvement is a very large room. That axiom can be applied to all governmental organizations. Name: Debra Poczatko Occupation: Business Owner/Insurance Broker Political Experience: Appointed to Village of Summit Zoning Committee Poczatko What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? 1. Budget/Spending: Make wise Name: Brent Porfilio Occupation: Licensed Professional Chief Civil Engineer Political Experience: Member, Homer Township Republicans; City of Lockport Planning Porfilio and Zoning Commissioner, 2007-present; City of Lockport Third Ward Aldermanic run, 2007; Wesmere Lakes Homeowners Association Board Member, elected; Willow Walk Homeowners Association Board Member, appointed use of tax dollars. Streamline, eliminate wasteful spending. Need to identify where to spend efficiently. Keep taxes down as most families don’t have extra money, and many of them are out of work with the current economy. Government needs to keep this in mind and care about the families living in the neighborhood. 2. Transparency: We need to post the Township budget and show how What do you see as the Top 3 issues in Homer Township? • Budget/Revenue and Expenses — Township revenue and expenses, agreed to on an annual basis via the budget, needs a thorough updating, due diligence review and enhancement. It is apparent to me that the annual budget is set according to the paradigm that if it was OK last year, it’s OK for this year. In terms of revenue, we should investigate new open space revenue, alternate methods of securing capital improvement funding and reviewing tax collection. In terms of expenses, we need to review staff scope of work, salaries and training; review our ongoing contracts and see if they are being performed by the best/lowest bid contractor available and look at establishing a contractor/ service prequalification. As far as new ideas and brainstorming, I have found in the past that promoting dialogue with and inspiration from similar state or national Townships on budgets and operations, in terms of unique improvements/efficiencies which may be applicable, are extremely valuable. • Services/Operations/Staff — This is related to expenses mentioned previously. We need to look at the services which the Township is providing, evaluating how effective they are, if they are being provided to everyone that needs them and if there should be more/less services provided moving forward depending on revenue we take in and expenses of the dollars are spent for all departments. Government is there to serve the people and not hide where their tax dollars are going. As a citizen, I know it is important to me, and I know it is important to you. 3. Let the people speak. I would like to see what the citizens of Homer Township would like to have done with their tax dollars. What services do they want, and are they getting them? Surveys and research. services. We need to look at Township operations/staff, evaluating current operations and duties and if they are being done efficiently, reviewing Township assets and facilities and seeing if there is any waste or ways to reduce operating, maintenance and energy costs. Also, with respect to staff, evaluating current division of duties, providing staff training to improve efficiencies, evaluating if there should be less staff, etc. • Intangibles/Resident Input — Promoting research and ideas from Township residents by soliciting award incentive programs for at-large ideas implemented. Having thousands think about Township policy, rather than those elected, has enormous dividends. This could be implemented through a suggestion box program on the website or in the Township office. Past experience indicates a financial return of over 100:1. Enhancement could be done through award incentive programs (free ballgame tickets, free dinners, etc.). For full trustee candidate questionnaires, visit HomerHorizon.com.