Jarett Sanchez: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 24
Office sought: Kane County Board District 24
Previous offices held: County Board Dec 2016-Present
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: Nobody likes taxes. IF the county NEEDS a sales tax to be able to afford this enormous unfunded state mandate then that is the *only* way I could support it. That is the question really- do we need it? Some are questioning the financial cost projections of this Act but none have provided a proper refutation so far.
Our only backup plan for now is to use county reserves and hope that the projected costs are not realized. Board members who oppose a sales tax outright have yet to produce a better plan than to "wait and see" so it looks like that is what we will do for now.
As a county we need to lobby Springfield to make adequate changes to this bill. I'm not sure why state legislators thought this would be a fair mandate to require of all counties. The Law of Unintended Consequences is real, and we shouldn't have to burden taxpayers even more because of it.
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: Increase in pay has been the most consistent message given by department heads and elected officials when we talk about turnover and retention. Often times we are the training grounds for other counties. Kane County hires people at a non-competitive wage, they get great training because of our wonderful and competent staff, and then a year or so later they move to another county or organization for higher pay by utilizing the skills they learned from us. This has to stop.
Unfortunately, if we're going to pay better then we need an increase in revenue. The Board majority seems opposed to the sales tax question, and a property tax increase is a tough sell that would not yield enough to cover everything.
We may just have to make cuts to staffing levels but for now we will utilize reserve funds to cover the increase in costs. I hope prospective board candidates are reading these words because we are going to have some very difficult decisions to make in the next couple of years.
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 cost savings wouldn't be significant by switching to an appointed auditor, but I think there are benefits to either configuration. One could say that an elected auditor would be more independent, objective, and effective, but one could also say that they might be incompetent and operate with no real oversight.
An appointed auditor could potentially be inhibited by direct reporting to a finance director, or it could be a potential streamlining of services. I would need to see some data from other counties that have made the switch from elected to appointed to determine which is preferable. It has not been a high priority for the board this year at all.
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: Our Transportation Division is very thorough and continually updates their 5-year plan which I support.
I also support smart growth and preserving the charming, small town feel that you get in so many communities in Kane County. I'm not in favor of the concept that any empty field should be developed- do we really want to start looking like Schaumburg or Joliet?
But to say there should be a moratorium on warehouse developments in unincorporated areas seems extreme and I would not support that.
We really just need municipal governments to work hard to preserve the quality of life for their residents and that includes being cautious about the aesthetic (and even health) impacts of any new development.
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: The county has a small capital fund which helps us to maintain our current buildings. We recently constructed a Multi-Use Facility which houses the Coroner's Office as well as Sheriff's vehicles and other types of storage and we had to go out to bond for that, which is likely what we would have to do for any other new construction.
I don't foresee us building a new county campus anytime soon. And as much as I like our current campus (an old seminary) it does not really fit the needs of a modern government. This is an ongoing conversation for the Administration Committee that spans decades.
Q: How do you think the county should spend the remaining COVID19 relief funds?
A: I steered the American Rescue Plan Committee as Chairman to establish a $4M Community Support Grant Program which is helping the recovery efforts of nonprofits organizations in the fields of mental health, homeless shelters, and food pantries. I'm very proud of that program.
The next big project is $42M in departmental requests, around half of which are going directly into the community. Things like a mental health workforce initiative, economic development support for industry and agriculture, and drinking water sustainability mapping.
Other projects will help the community indirectly such as funding for the Children's Advocacy Center, a study on broadband internet expansion into rural areas, and upgrades to our emergency services communication network.
Beyond that there are some proposals we are considering such as a grant to CASA Kane County, which is a nonprofit that represents children in abuse & neglect cases and saves the county $7M a year.
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 Kane County Health Department is largely grant-funded which means that it has developed a model that utilizes the numerous community partner organizations in the county. So they're essentially helping to coordinate services for all residents who may need it.
The Health Department request for American Rescue Plan money is designed to help the department become a better hub for coordinating these mental health services. I think that given the proper funding it could act much like Township 708 boards do.
As Public Health Committee Chair I work closely with Executive Director Michael Isaacson so I know that they will be continuing to pursue grant funding which will help achieve these goals. We also have plans to promote more information on nutrition and exercise which has been shown to create improvements in people's mental health.