The County adheres to best practices in county transparency. The website has an easy guide that directs the public to a number of sites.
DuPage County IL - DuPage County Transparency Portal For example, the County's checkbook is online. Our county wage and compensation report gives quarterly updates on employees' and elected officials' position titles and compensation. Our meeting portal hold all the same documents Board Members receive before voting on matters in County Board meetings. Agendas and minutes of county appointed agencies are also listed via the transparency portal. I think upon the election of the new sheriff, it will be essential to make more of the public safety funds part of the county budget and thereby accessible to public review. As the county also absorbs the Election Commission, as expected in 2019, we will have a more detailed ability to analyze the budget and see what efficiencies can be achieved by merging with the County Clerk's office.
During budget preparations for the FY 2018 Budget, the state decided to keep millions in revenue that traditionally came to counties, including:
• 10% of the Local Government Distributive Fund
• A 2% administrative fee on the RTA sales tax, and
• A reduction in our share of the Personal Property Replacement tax.
That represented a revenue loss of $2.7 million. The County Board asked all departments to take a 2% to 4% cut, and passed a balanced, maintenance budget. Our budget is more than $30 million less than it was in December of 2010.
The County has NOT raised property taxes in the last 10 years. We spend the people's money wisely and will continue to sharpen our pencils to make certain future budgets are not only balanced but well spent. I also believe that the size of the County Board can be reduced. With redistricting coming up - perhaps a study to reduce the size of the board to 16 or even 14 members would be in order.
Elected Officials compensation is always one of those issues that remind me of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. What amount of compensation is just right? Setting elected officials compensation is not an easy task. I believe it is very important to have a professionally diverse board with as many career experiences as possible to help make important decisions. To attract these experts, proper compensation is a must to encourage a fair cross section of expert candidates from all careers and professional life to become board members. After all, the county board is making weekly decisions involving a $440 million annual budget for nearly 1 million people, 9 countywide elected officials (sheriff, states attorney, clerk, coroner etc.) and 10 different departments (public works, transportation, health and human services. I do not believe any locally or state elected official should receive a pension. Public service is an honor. I do not accept any benefits.
Our Hope Task Force and many of our programs already deal with the adolescent population. However, I am concerned about seniors. ThU.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections indicate that in little more than a decade, all 73 million baby boomers will be older than age 65, meaning one in every five U.S. residents will be retirement age. Aging adults often face stressful issues they never saw coming. Loneliness and chronic health conditions are often experienced by our aging population. Our not for profit caregivers and DuPage County must allocate resources to assist these individuals. In addition, Senior Citizens tend to be on fixed incomes and to have the ability to seek help for mental health issues these agencies must take Medicare and the County must continue to make our seniors a priority. DuPage County also has a directory titled - Age Well DuPage - https://www.dupageco.org/Community_Services/Senior_Services/1699/ so residents can find information quickly
Earlier this year, the County announced the formation of the Heroin-Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Taskforce, with representatives from various sectors of the community, including mental health, law enforcement, adjudication, substance use treatment, and others. The Taskforce has five focal points:
• Reduce access to drugs
• Reduce opioid use and misuse
• Increase overdose response
• Focus on integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment and recovery, and
• Engage in substance use prevention and education
Through the work of the Taskforce, Chief Judge Daniel Guerin will develop a specialty court for first-time drug offenders. The court will have judges and staff educated on issues related to mental health, substance use disorder, and best practices to address concerns. The court is expected to be put in place later this year. The DuPage Narcan Program continues to save lives by dispensing Narcan, a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
The DuPage County Board has trouble with informing its citizens on its purpose and actual function within the county, even though the budget for the county government is going to hit $433.8 million according to the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget. I want to work to improve transparency within our units of government. The DuPage County Board meets on Tuesdays at 10am, which is largely inaccessible to the working, tax-paying citizens of our county. I want to change the time of this meeting from 10am to a time in the evening where residents can attend and offer input on what services their tax money is going towards. Additionally, I would like to host town hall meetings within District 5 to address any concerns constituents may have about DuPage County Board business and to further facilitate a conversation to keep people engaged in the process. On top of that, I believe the DuPage County website needs to be revamped in order to streamline important information to the voters.
I would look for waste within existing units of government in DuPage County. I believe in smart consolidation. I voted yes to the consolidation of the Election Commission with the Clerk’s Office. I would also support consolidating the Recorder’s office with the Clerk’s Office. Sharing responsibilities with other municipalities will assist in reducing costs as well. The Opioid crisis is an issue where we need cooperation of townships, municipal police departments, schools, and other units of government.
I am open to discussion on the salaries of county board members, but we must also look at the budget to see if the $2 million annual salaries for DuPage County Board members would have a significant impact on the county government’s proposed $433.8 million budget. The reason why salaries are high in DuPage county but lower than Cook County is because we have the second largest county after Cook, which requires more work. I believe that salaries add value to the work that county board members do, and they attract quality candidates in the future. There are many county board members that sacrifice their time from their families and their regular jobs to serve the public. I believe that all public servants should truly earn their pay and work as hard as they can for the public. We need to do more than the bare minimum.
Mental health is becoming a national issue, and we need to pay more attention to this at the local level. I want to collaborate with different units of government, including school boards, the DuPage County Board, municipalities, and law enforcement to come up with solutions to this problem for our adolescents. The DuPage County Board should work with the school boards in order to ensure that resources for our children’s mental health are readily available. Parents also need to be educated on the warning signs of their children going through mental health crises such as depression, so the DuPage County Board should work with law enforcement and the municipalities to develop programs that can accomplish parental education.
Collaboration amongst local units of government is crucial in combating the opioid epidemic in DuPage County. The number of opioid-related deaths continues its upward climb, and while the county allotted $100,000 to the problem, that is not enough to adequately review the content of our drug education programs within DuPage County’s schools. The focus on our drug-prevention educations needs to not revolve around the emphasis that marijuana is the only gateway drug - alcohol and tobacco products also are seen as gateway drugs and should be taught as such. This amount is also not enough to aid the recovery of those already stricken by the epidemic. We need to re-examine the budget to see where there is waste within our units of government so we can be equipped to deal with this issue.
The first way the DuPage County Board can demonstrate transparency is to move the board meetings from 10 a.m. every other Tuesday to Tuesday evenings, since mornings are obviously incredibly inconvenient times for most working citizens. When I served on the IPSD 204 Board of Education, meetings were always held at 7 p.m. on Mondays, and we often had a full room of involved citizens. This is the best way to engage the public.
Another way to achieve transparency is to publish the county budget on the website every month. That way, every DuPage County resident would know exactly how the board spends and on what. We also should email the minutes from each meeting to residents every Wednesday after the Tuesday board meeting. This update would include the issues discussed the previous night and how each board member voted.
The primary job of the board is to ensure DuPage taxpayers’ money is well spent. I call for the DuPage County Board to open up for bid all contracts that exceed $10,000. This way, even the whisper of cronyism can be avoided, and the county is assured the best, most cost-efficient products and services. This objective alone would also allow for more transparent, better business practices.
Additionally, I advocate for a reduction of the board itself. Most other collar counties have two representatives per district on their boards. There is absolutely no benefit to residents employing three board members per district. This reduction in redundancy would automatically save the county $312,612. Dissolving the Recorder’s Office into the County Clerk’s Office would also save the county at least $145,485, plus the additional $6,500 stipend currently enjoyed by the County Recorder.
I would accept the benefits package currently offered board members because I would make the position my number-one responsibility. Having said that, I do agree that DuPage County Board members are among the highest paid County Board members in the state and would never cast a “Yea” vote to increase the salary of a DuPage County Board Commissioner.
As I said in my previous response, reducing the number of representatives from each district from three to two would significantly reduce these costs.
Affordable, accessible mental health services are vital to community members and their families. These services are crucial, since between 13% and 20% of children and adolescents in the United States experience a serious emotional disturbance every single year.
The DuPage County Health Department provides child and adolescent mental health care services for youth “who may be in crisis,” but “crisis” should not be the beginning of care. Services should be available to families before their child hits “crisis.” Current services are available through Medicaid and Medicaid Managed Care. Other insurance plans are not accepted. Adolescents whose families fall in the health care gap, without private insurance or Medicaid, would not be accepted. I would like to see more money invested into this program to make treatment available to all children and adolescents in need, period.
Intergovernmental collaboration is the only way in which to combat this evil menace in our community. The county needs to collaborate with schools, the Sheriff’s office, and other governmental agencies. Education is key, but so is decriminalization of addicts. Those afflicted with this disease cannot be placed in a jail cell with no treatment. Rather than incarceration, let’s enforce in-house treatment programs to provide therapy, medications, and tools to fight this terrible problem.
Transparency and accessibility = better, respectful, 2-way communication. Technology can help deliver timely and accurate information at a reasonable cost. As Naperville Councilwoman I helped lead increased City transparency through www.naperville.il.us. If you prefer to talk 1-on-1, I am available 24/7 to the media and all those I represent; everyone has and gets my direct contact info. The County can improve its technology-based transparency by better video access to Board and other meetings. For a transparency/cost win-win we might better partner with COD to provide coverage of all of the County’s meetings, agendas, and documentation. Done correctly, technology rids resident and business worry that they are not being heard. They deserve the convenient opportunity to see their elected and other government officials at work. They need an easier conduit to give us feedback and ideas, and technology can better enable transparency by providing timely, accurate information.
The County and Naperville both have +$400 million budgets. When elected to Council, Naperville had a $6MM budget gap, the AAA bond rating was risked, and debt grew. So, we cut real estate taxes (now at 1990s levels), cut costs, fixed inefficiencies, matched revenues to needed City services, and saved the AAA bond rating (the lower borrowing cost if the City must). The budget and services value is transparent so people know what they pay for (like garbage fees being a utility line item not lost in the general budget). We now have financial principals that partner with residents and businesses to balance the budget, deliver cost-effective services, and aim to reduce debt by 25% in 8 years. The State still doesn’t pay its bills and human costs are high, but each year we fill the budget hole with business growth, efficiencies and no new real estate taxes. This fiscal philosophy matches Chairman Cronin’s ACT initiative, and I look forward to being on his team to make ACT a greater success.
Elected officials represent the taxpayers, it is not a “career”. Take a pension or health insurance? No. Never. As Naperville Councilwoman I promised to eliminate them for Councilmen/women. I kept my promise. Board salaries too high? Probably. As Councilwoman I’m paid about $12K a year. I work for Naperville taxpayers full time and I will work full time for the DuPage County taxpayers too. If any candidate says they are going to represent you part time, ask them where you rank in their “career” priority because you are clearly not number 1. Although City Council pay is less than my cost to be a full-time Councilwoman, some collar county Board members are paid less than DuPage members. So we need to study it and budget for it. Just like I promised to eliminate Naperville pensions and healthcare, I’ll work to reduce excessive Board salaries and also consider reducing the number of Board members (2 per District, not 3).
In 2016 Naperville created an Accessible Community Task Force (ACTF) to enhance life quality for persons with cognitive physical, mental, and developmental disabilities that live, work, or visit Naperville. The County’s efforts would be improved by an ACTF. With law enforcement staff I also trained to understand mental illness better, how homelessness often arises from mental illness, and how understanding the views of the mentally ill is so critical to helping them. I am also a member of the Kids Matter advisory commission, an organization that helps youth make healthy choices by pro-actively identifying triggers that pose mental health risks leading to intervention needs. Kids Matter is making progress in identifying and addressing the stressors that challenge the mental health, even the suicides, of our youth. The greatest risks today are opioids and school safety. Know I will always be guided by the heart and experience of motherhood to protect all of our children.
Opioid abuse has such a huge geography it is easy to think too broadly and miss that we can have our greatest impact locally; and that’s a role the County and our educators must lead. To help, the County has developed reporting programs with doctors to locate and measure risks and focus resources. We must help improve education efforts about the underestimated risk at all municipal levels. I support enhanced training and outreach by our first responders (and expanded NARCAN use for when we are too late). We must enhance public/private efforts for workplace education. But, foremost, we must do more for school safety, where youth addictions often arise. I am pained by the disrespect our youth endure in social media, advertising, movies, news, and politics and seek the fatal “cure” of drug addiction instead. We will only stem these risks through respect, education, and support. Only together can we do better.