February 10, 2017

Naperville City Council Candidate Forum

One of the key issues in our town is managing the property tax levy and income sources like sales tax, electric and garbage fees all while being fair to the residents.

Newcomer Julie Berkowicz sees a need for reform.

“Perhaps we shouldn’t be in the electric business. We should bring in experts for these utilities and review these utilities to find out what we can do to make it more affordable for our residents,” said Berkowicz.

Mike Strick finds fault with the current payment plan between the water and electric departments.

“Why do we need to take money out of one pocket and put it in the other, why does the electric company need to pay it back? If they need the money, come to the city and say we need the money because of an unfunded mandate,” said Strick.

The key to working through these issues for newcomer Mike Issac is by starting with fresh ideas.

“Re-evaluate our utility process, I think we need to understand what our long term contracts are and we need to re-evalute these periodically, just like we do in our own home,” said Isaac.

Dr. Benny White thinks we should reach out to other agencies to help reduce the burden on residents.

“Working with the other 32 members of the Illinois Municipal Electrical Agency, IMEA, for which Naperville owns a 33% voting right. When added with cities like Winnetka and St. Charles we can work together to seek favorable utility pricing,” said Dr. White.

Other council incumbents like Kevin Coyne and John Krummen see hope in combining local governments to accomplish more.

“7,000 units of government in Illinois need to show more political will and work together to consolidate services and partner on costs and do what we can collectively to reduce tax burden on residents,” said Coyne.

“Consolidation between townships, road districts and other government entities- although these are complicated issues with many known and unknown risks, there’s no reason we can’t come together for combined purchasing power,” said Krummen.

The other two incumbents, Judy Brodhead and Kevin Gallaher do see the issues at hand, but also the progress that’s been made thus far.

“We often remind people that the municipal portion of the tax bill is 11-13% of the total real estate tax bill since our schools are primarily funded with the property taxes, that’s what 70% of real estate taxes go to,” said Brodhead.

“We’ve continued to maintain our AAA bond rating and 94% of our residents are satisfied with the quality of life in Naperville. Challenges remain but the City Council working with staff is committed to make it a great community,” added Gallaher.

Other topics discussed during the forum ranged from the opiod epidemic in our area, to parking struggles in town.

Naperville News 17’s Alyssa Bochenek reports.

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