Gregory Buck: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 23
Office sought: Kane County Board District 23
Occupation: Technology Service Director
Previous offices held: I have not held previous elected positions.
Q: Do you support an increase in the countywide retail sales tax to help pay for expenses related to the SAFE T legislation? Yes/No? If yes, which SAFE T-related expenses, specifically, should be covered with the additional tax? If no, how do you suggest paying for the increased expenses related to the SAFE T legislation?
A: The SAFE T legislation is an unfunded mandate passed by the state legislature, burdening all 102 counties in the state. Most county State's Attorneys and Sheriffs have called upon the state legislature to address the funding needed for such sweeping institutional reforms under a compressed timeline. Prior to Kane County entertaining any tax increases, whether sales or property the county departments and budgets should be reviewed holistically, to determine if operational efficiencies or consolidations can be realized. Passing along additional taxes to residents and businesses in Kane County still recovering would cause additional hardship. While the county is projecting an increase in revenue of 45.9% or $14.5M increase from sales taxes in fiscal year budget 2023 year over year.
Q: What should be done to retain county staff? If you propose increases in salaries or benefits, how should those added costs be covered?
A: The people in any organization are its core foundation and strength. In today's competitive workforce environment, retaining and motivating staff are crucial. Overall compensation of salary and benefits should be benchmarked against comparable counties, with plans to remediate gaps where they exist over time. These efforts need to be budgeted over time with annual improvement targets. These efforts should take priority for existing staff as opposed to expanding staff. Most studies show that in addition to compensation, top reasons employees leave include the work environment culture, management, ability to remote work and career progression. These areas should be explored in addition to compensation.
Q: Do you believe the county auditor should be an elected or appointed position? Why? Are there any other countywide offices that are currently elected positions that you believe should be appointed instead? If so, please explain.
A: The county auditor should be an elected position so the voters of Kane County can choose the candidates with the best record and credentials to represent the residents. Any attempt to move the county auditor to an appointed position should be decided by Kane County voters in a referendum.
Q: The county has seen an increase in truck traffic. How do you propose to address the infrastructure needs that come with this increase in traffic? Do you support a moratorium on warehouse developments in unincorporated areas of the county? Yes/No? Please explain.
A: Comprehensive land use and development planning between state, county and local governments are crucial to address long term economic and transportation infrastructure development needs. Often the two are not planned or developed in concert with each other.
No, while I would not support a moratorium on warehouse development, the density of development should be considered to ensure that appropriate transportation and infrastructure are planned and developed accordingly. As mentioned earlier often they are not.
Q: What direction do you think the county should move as it relates to its aging buildings? Build new or rehab existing buildings? Why and how would you propose the county pay for any new buildings or improvements?
A: There is no single solution, rather multiple approaches that need to be considered. The county currently has a study underway to assess the county's future needs and conditions of current facilities. The study will enable the county to determine the best most cost-effective approach which will most likely include some combination of renovation and new buildings. New building / renovation source funding could be a portion of the $103M federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds received which is allowable.
Another consideration is the virtual / work from home arrangement. When feasible the new work dynamic should be embraced. In addition to reduction in facilities expenditures, it would assist with staff retention based upon recent studies.
A third option would be the sale of county properties with the option to lease back. A strategy many organizations in the private sector have taken to reduce costs and better focus on their primary missions.
Q: How do you think the county should spend the remaining COVID19 relief funds?
A: The utilization of the remaining $103 ARPA funds should be a balance of addressing immediate recovery needs and long-term investments that benefit county residents and businesses. The immediate need is for residents and businesses with ongoing recovery from COVID mandates and their unintended consequences of health, welfare, and economic contraction. Working in concert with the county departments and community, these needs will be identified and considered.
Q: The COVID pandemic also put a spotlight on the need for mental health services. What role should the county play in this?
A: The county board has allocated $5M of the $103M ARPA funds for mental health service providers. The county should ensure funds expand mental health services in the community to meet the growing needs versus providing bonuses to providers.
In most of the country, it is the state that funds mental health services. IL lags most states on a State Mental Health Agency expenditure per capita. Instead, relying upon local government entities through referendum to create and fund local 708 Mental Health Boards. Kane County has eleven 708 Mental Health Boards, compared to Cook County that has twelve boards serving 10x the population.
The Kane County Health Department should be a catalyst in the county under the recently approved IL Senate Bill 3789 Local Government Consolidation and Efficiency Act, to explore 708 Board consolidations. Achieving greater efficiencies and, eliminating redundant costs, will result in more resources to expand mental health services.