To the editor:
If we fill our minds and hearts with negativity, our lives will be full of frustration, anger and division. But if we exercise the self-discipline it requires to concentrate on positives, we will lead happier, healthier and more productive lives in 2017.
May I give you a good example of this important practice?
Kane County government achieved many of its most useful goals in 2016. Yet, the Kane County Chronicle highlighted in its year-end recap edition a temporary difference in opinion between me and the state’s attorney regarding the legal authority of the countywide-elected chairman’s office.
Much more important than sensational coverage of differing opinions are the following 10 accomplishments, which represent our collective efforts for an entire year on your behalf.
In the past year, Kane County’s hardworking team:
1. Continued the county’s property tax levy freeze.
2. Improved transparency by expanding the OpenGov website.
3. Saved $2 million by delivering a new, computerized court case management system essentially on time in 2016 and under budget. This happened through multiyear cooperation from the chief judge, public defender, sheriff, circuit clerk, state’s attorney, IT, court services and the County Board.
4. Stabilized the Workforce Investment Board, which annually invests $5.8 million in employment and training initiatives.
5. Put Animal Control’s budget in the black. Animal Control is now only a year away from paying off the “mortgage” debt on its beautiful building.
6. Fully funded pensions with prepayments on our long-term obligations to IMRF and SLEP.
7. Balanced leadership opportunities for chairmen of county standing committees by party, gender and ethnicity.
8. Brought Kane County government and business leaders together in a summer summit that unveiled the county’s 47 miles of fiber-optic cable infrastructure – another nonproperty-tax source of revenue.
9. Successfully negotiated all but one of our 13 collective bargaining agreements. We begin the process again in 2017.
10. Continued progress toward completion of the $120 million Longmeadow Parkway.
In 2017, we again have a choice to emphasize the positive or dwell on the negative. Too often, reporters and editors make people in public life appear contentious – then bemoan what they see as the degradation of our democratic institutions.
I recommend that newspapers take some responsibility for their role and, when merited, accentuate the real progress that’s being made every day on behalf of Kane County taxpayers.
Christopher J. Lauzen
Chairman of the Kane County Board