To the Editor:
I honor the dignity and function of the Kane County Coroner’s Office and respect the new coroner as a person. I am committed to working constructively with him.
However, when any person leaves a meeting and tells the press that my opposition to a 33 percent increase in payroll or about 25 percent increase to an entire agency budget are political and somehow personal, using examples that tend to scare people like “ … somebody with an ice pick in their head ... ,” he is distracting our mutual constituents from the real issue.
The real issue is tragically simple! More government spending leads to higher property taxes. A 25 percent budget spending increase will make it impossible for all of us to keep our commitment to taxpayers to freeze the county property tax levy, especially during times when property values have dramatically decreased.
All taxpayers and I want to do is pay for only work that is necessary and actually performed. It’s not about the coroner. It’s not about the chairman. It’s about a 33 percent increase in the payroll and the impact on your property taxes.
The sheriff, state’s attorney, public defender, county auditor, circuit court clerk, county chairman, county clerk, recorder and nearly all county departments have submitted preliminary budgets that hold their spending within a range of 0 percent to 5 percent increases – before collective bargaining agreements and contingency allocations. Even these smaller increases will be hard to offset with any revenue increases that come from a fragile, recovering economy.
The coroner reminds us that he was elected by the people, and we should not question the assumptions he makes in his first public budget. My response is, “Would voters have elected any candidate if they knew that his first public budget would increase spending by 25 percent?”
Perhaps a better approach would be to focus on managing an office that has been sadly neglected for several years, rather than focusing on spending much more money.
This is not political or personal. It is about holding the line on the property tax levy.
The solution I propose is to ask the county auditor, who’s also elected by the people, to serve as an expert third party to check the assumptions behind any 25 percent budget increase. That way we may find some common ground between taxpayers and the coroner’s office.
Christopher J. Lauzen
Kane County Board chairman