On the Record
What experiences do you have that make you a good candidate for office?
The answer to this question would be my life experiences; growing up, serving in the U.S. Army, attending college, becoming a parent, my career as a sales/marketing executive and lastly, the experience and knowledge I have gained while serving as your elected official. I have a strong business background and believe government should be conducted the same. My approach in making decisions for our community is gaining a complete understanding of the issue, concern or opportunity. In doing so, I attend additional meetings, seek the perspective of others, conduct research and ask questions. After I have completed this process, unless my findings are in the best interest of our residents and will improve the quality of life for our community, I vote no. Unlike many who serve in politics today, I will not tell you what you want to hear; I will tell you the truth. As I do in my personal and professional life, and as your elected official, I will continue to represent you with honesty, integrity and provide the leadership that you desire and deserve.
What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
One of my priorities is our downtown redevelopment. Proactive steps have been taken in developing a TIF district to address the blighted downtown area near the Metra train station. We still need to address creating additional parking, developing a village façade improvement program, improving the water/sewer infrastructure, and finally begin marketing to retail/commercial businesses. This summer we should have a new, modern Metra station which is a significant element of this revitalization process. I would like to continue working with others crafting this framework that will put us in a position of implementation as the economy continues improve. Another priority of mine is ensuring the village is fiscally responsible. One of my concerns both long and short term are expenditures vs. revenues. Our village is responsible for providing police services, maintaining streets, parks, and infrastructure, plus additional services needed to make our village the quality community we all desire and deserve. In a time when revenue sources are at risk, we must take steps to reduce expenditures without compromising services. I believe it is important to continue to identify opportunities for process improvements and other cost savings in an effort to reduce expenditures.
Would you support freezing your taxing district’s levy until housing prices rebound? Why or why not?
The answer to this question is YES! I do support a freeze at this time. I voted in 2012 against any levy increase, in 2013 with the exception that I voted yes to capture property tax dollars that are a result of new retail development, on RT.14 between Walgreen’s and Dunkin Donuts. The Property Tax Extension Law (PTEL) is somewhat doubled edged. On one side, when the economy was good, property values were increasing (PTEL) provided some protection as it was caped as to what public taxing bodies could levy annually. On the other edge, when our economy, along with property values began to decrease this same law (PTEL) became a negative, as taxing bodies continue to submit their annual levy, as this is allowed under the current state law. I do understand that taxing bodies need revenue to cover operational costs and those services they provide. I also understand that the same property owners/tax payers for different reasons have had to make changes, tighten their belt. With that said, I believe that action should be taken to address this current law and that changes must be addressed in the public sector that will provide for a sustaining future economy.
What one decision by the village board do you most disagree with and why?
I would have to say the approval of the new Public Works Facility. Our existing Public Works Department shares the same space with our Wastewater Treatment Plant. For years, the village has understood that needed modernization to meet potential IEPA requirements would require relocation of the Public Works Department. The initial objective was to relocate our Public Works Department. The initial conceptual design of this building, as presented, was for only vehicle and equipment storage at an estimated cost between 2.8M and 3.5M. It was approved by the board that we do this in phases, with office and repair facility to be constructed at a later date. I voted no. Bonds were issued to fund the initial project; additional funding for phase 2 would then be required. I believe the total cost of the approved project exceeds what is realistic and affordable. The potential to burden residents with significant water and sewer rate increases is very realistic with this plan as approved. Relocation of the Public Works Department is needed; however, it should be the entire Public Works Department to include the office space and repair area with only the initial funding we have secured to date.
What was the biggest accomplishment of the board in the past year?
Establishing the redevelopment project of our downtown area was our biggest accomplishment. One of the ongoing comments that are made by residents and those that drive through our village is that something has to be done with our downtown area. The Village Board started by reviewing past studies, then selected a consulting company that specializes in downtown redevelopment. Their study provided detailed information of our strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The village also reached out to residents, businesses and taxing bodies for comments and suggestions. After this process and many long conversations, a decision was made to begin redevelopment of our blighted downtown area. A Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) was established. This is the same process that the village had utilized for the Dominick’s/Stone Hill Shopping Center and where Walgreen’s and several other commercial buildings are now located. Today, there are a number of projects that the village is working on, such as additional parking, façade improvement programs and upgrading infrastructure for future development. Additionally, this summer a new, modern Metra station will be completed which is a significant element of this entire redevelopment project. I’m confident that this will come to fruition but it will also take time.
Why should voters elect you to office?
I am a homeowner, taxpayer and parent, and I face many of the same day-to-day issues and concerns as you. I have served our village as a trustee starting 2000 – 2004 and 2008 to present. I study all information that is provided, conduct research and stay current with the affairs of other municipalities, our state, county and federal governments. I welcome comments, opinions and the perspectives of others. I ask myself two specific questions before I ever cast a vote. 1) Is this in the best interest of the residents; 2) Will this improve the quality of life of our community? If I can’t say yes to both, I vote no. I have and will continue to ask the difficult questions that many would like to ask, yet are reluctant. My objective remains the same; to represent all residents and local businesses with integrity and commitment, while working collaboratively to improve the quality of life for our community. It would be an honor to continue as your elected official.
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Paul Musgrave Jr.