Kane County Treasurer Candidates Debate Issues

Article excerpt

Two Republicans are vying in the Feb. 2 primary for Kane County Treasurer. Sugar Grove resident Bob Kovanic, 48, the owner of Padgett Business Services in Aurora, is challenging incumbent David Rickert, 43, of Elgin. Here are their thoughts on issues selected from a Daily Herald questionnaire sent to each candidate.

Q. Do you support the push to make county services as close to self-funded as possible? Does the treasurer's office charge enough, too much or not enough for the services it provides to residents?

Bob Kovanic. I will strive to be vigilant in uncovering methods to reduce the tax burden on the residents of Kane County. To that end, I believe county services should be as close to self-funding as possible. In regards to the treasurer's office, each service and fee will be studied to determine cost effectiveness.

David Rickert. Under Illinois law, property tax collection is required to be funded by county government. Any significant adjustment to the funding mechanism for this office would require a legislative change and, in light of the current budgeting problems in Springfield, this is highly unlikely.

Q. Elected department heads, including the treasurer, have budgets set by the county board, resulting in some turmoil. What is the best way for the treasurer to have a budget that allows it to function efficiently, but also reflects tough economic times?

Kovanic. Regardless of the economic times, all government departments should be run efficiently every day. Staffing should be analyzed to determine if the current level is appropriate, spending needs to be reviewed to uncover possible cuts, and an analysis of all departments needs to be done to determine if there is any duplication of services. During tough economic times, government should feel the same "pain" as the citizenry; budgets should be cut unless there would be an adverse effect upon essential services.

Rickert. The treasurer's office has remained under budget each and every year that I have been treasurer. Due to the cost-saving measures implemented during my tenure, the treasurer's office was able to comply with both a midyear budget reduction and an end-of-year budget reduction that was mandated by the county board this year.

The county board should regularly evaluate the budget performance of the offices (including the treasurer's) as compared to their counterparts in similarly sized counties in Illinois. A comparative ratio analysis would quickly expose inefficiencies and highlight problem areas if they exist. Also, the county board should prioritize expenditures with statutory functions given precedence over nonstatutory functions. This would go a long way to improving the budgetary process.

Q. Do you support separate tax levies for elected department heads as they set their budgets? Why or why not?

Kovanic. If you mean a one-time levy to fill a budget gap, then no; if a onetime levy is done once, it will be done over and over again.

Effective officials, like households, need to operate within their allotted funds; households do not have the opportunity to ask their employer for an additional one-time payout so why should departments heads be given this special option. …