Michael Skala

Demographics

Republican

42

Huntley

High School, Cary Grove

Associate's Degree, McHenry County College

Bachelor's Degree, Opperational Management Information Systems, OMIS , Northern Illinois University

Self Employed, Innovative Component Sales, Inc.

Married, Carol

Charlotte, 18

Anna, 14

On the Record

Why are you running for McHenry County Board, and what qualifications do you bring to the office?

I have been a volunteer community servant for 14 years as a member and as President of the District 158 Board of Education. I am running for the McHenry County Board because I want to work for the taxpayers of the County to make a positive difference in the lives of every resident. I am known for my ability to work with all types of personalities to accomplish positive results. I am also a small business owner, with operations in Huntley and Woodstock. I have experienced firsthand the struggles and difficulties of trying to keep a business afloat in a declining economy, and I am always looking for ways to save money and challenge the “that is how we have always done it” attitude. I am a proven leader, someone who listens to residents and takes the time to understand their needs. I demand accountability of employees and believe that solid policies and procedures, as well as working within balanced budgets, produce great results. I will take the time to learn and understand all of the different levels and structures currently in place. This information will allow me to make informed decisions and well-thought-out changes to the current status.

The County Board has resisted calls to make its chairmanship popularly elected. Now, a referendum has been placed on the November ballot that seeks to change the county to an executive form of government. What do you think about the referendum and the board’s resistance to allow voters decide whether they want to elect the board chairman at the ballot box?

I am not in favor of changing the structure of government to an executive form. This form will take the power from the 24 elected County Board members and put it into one individual’s hand. In an executive form, the accountability of the person running the day to day operations decreases significantly. Currently the chairperson is elected by the 24 board members every two years, and their vote carries no more weight than the other 23 members’ votes. A county executive is elected to a four year term, during which they can push through a personal agenda. A county executive also has veto power, much like a governor, which means they have considerably greater control over policy decisions. A county executive can also make appointments to boards and commissions without seeking the input of other board members, which makes it quite possible for a county executive to stack a board with their political allies. I am strongly opposed to the county executive form of government. I am not opposed to a referendum that would allow the residents of McHenry County to decide if the chairperson should be elected by voters instead of from within the board.

Do you support county government using taxpayer money to lobby against state legislation that would have protected property taxpayers from tax increases in years when property values declined? Explain your answer.

Every unit of government should be accountable to the taxpayers it represents. The bill that was presented by Representative Franks to “protect” taxpayers in McHenry County was filled with problems that in the end would have “hurt” taxpayers. In this particular case, I believe the county board was lobbying against bad legislation, not against protections for tax payers. For example, this specific bill did not take into account taxing bodies that cross county lines. School District 158 is located in McHenry and Kane Counties and we have already experienced problems due to different assessed values by different township assessors. Each unit of government needs to be responsible and limit the amount of tax that they collect. The elected officials need to be held accountable to the people who elect them at every election. In general, paid lobbyists need to be looking out for the best interest of whom they represent. They take direction from the governing board and should work for them to do the work they are hired to perform. If they are not doing that work then they need to be replaced.

The County Board is working this year to not collect the inflationary tax levy increase allowed under state law. Will you agree to support a freeze to the county’s levy again next year? Explain.

I will work toward holding the levy flat again next year. Any increase in taxes on the people of the County during these tough economic times creates a hardship for families and business owners. In my current role as President of the District 158 Board of Education, I recently led the board in the approval of a flat levy for next year so residents will not have an increase for the school portion of their tax bills. It was the right thing to do. We made this decision based on a belief that a tax increase during a declining economy is not in the best interest of the residents we serve. I believe the county board should do the same thing this year and look to do the same thing next year, especially since they have a healthy fund reserve. They recently changed their policy to increase the fund reserve from 5 months to 6 months to reflect the amount of cash on hand. This change shows that the county has the reserves to keep taxes flat.

Given the obstacles a local couple have had with turning their vineyard into a winery, how business friendly would you say the County Board and county ordinances are? What changes would you seek if elected?

What this couple went through was upsetting on many levels. This is one of the reasons I am running for office. The county needs to have a business friendly structure that will attract companies and encourage the growth of existing companies. These business friendly policies are especially important for McHenry County, since the county borders Wisconsin, a state that actively tries to lure Illinois businesses over the border. Illinois tax issues are a huge deterrent, but if McHenry County can be known as the location with the proper infrastructure (roads, public transportation, and utilities), zoning, and business incentives, we can keep and attract business and ultimately add jobs. It should never take a business that long to go through any process at the County level. If joint meetings need to be called to deal with several areas of county government at one time this should occur instead of requiring the couple to bounce from committee to committee. If the residents want lower taxes then the County needs to increase the commercial and industrial tax base.

Outside of jobs and the economy, what is the biggest challenge facing voters in your district and how would you address it?

I agree that jobs and the economy are absolutely the biggest challenges facing voters in McHenry County, and every decision the County Board makes in the coming years should be viewed through a lens of “how will this help to promote job creation and a better economy?”. Other issues, like public safety, roads, groundwater preservation and zoning are important, but each has a direct parallel to jobs and the economic vitality of our county. For example, safe communities, improved roads, an adequate supply of safe groundwater are all issues that are good selling points for businesses looking to relocate or expand current operations here. Again, every decision we make, whether it is regarding finances, zoning, or anything else, should have an element that helps our county’s growth in the areas of jobs and economic vitality.