Jeffrey A. Meyer: 2022 candidate for Kane County Board District 22
Office sought: Kane County Board District 22
Occupation: Attorney, member/partner, Klein, Stoddard, Buck & Lewis, LLC
Previous offices held: Elgin Community College District 509 board of trustees, 2015-21
Q: Do you support an increase in the countywide retail sales tax to help pay for expenses related to the SAFE-T legislation? 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: I vehemently oppose a new or increase in the countywide retail sales tax to pay expenses related to the SAFE-T Act legislation. The SAFE-T Act makes our community less safe and is an unfunded mandate imposed upon us by Gov. Pritzker and the Democratic majority in the state legislature.
The SAFE-T Act's elimination of cash bail will put dangerous criminals back into our neighborhood and community. Persons charged with violent crimes including murder, robbery, kidnapping, and nonresidential burglary will be permitted to remain free pending trial regardless of the risk they pose to Kane County.
It also eliminates a source of funding for the county where a percentage of bail was retained from bond posted by persons formally charged to defray related costs. The Act's mandates for additional law enforcement training, and universal use of body cameras, while laudable for enhancing competency, transparency and accountability, should not be imposed without State funding.
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 labor market across all industries the last few years has been challenging for employers, public and private. Rampant inflation, population exodus, a decrease in labor participation, and altogether fewer available workers are all factors that are forcing employers to increase wages or benefits to attract and retain staff.
But raising taxes on residents suffering from that same inflation to pay for county employee raises is not the answer. A comprehensive review of staff positions needs to be conducted to determine what open positions can be eliminated going forward, with savings being reallocated to wage increases in extant positions.
Further, the county must consider what employment options such as remote work, flexible scheduling, or fringe benefits, would make county employment relatively more attractive to existing and prospective employees even if the salary or wage is less than may be available with a different employer.
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: I am less concerned with how the county auditor is selected than I am with assuring the person holding the office has the appropriate academic and professional credentials or experience to perform the job competently. Arguments can be made both in favor of retaining an elected versus appointed county auditor.
Elected officers are, arguably, more accountable to the public they serve and independent from the offices or entity they are charged with auditing. Conversely, elected officers are more susceptible to political pressure and interests.
Municipal governments in Illinois are required to have an annual audit performed by a licensed certified public accountant but, amazingly, Illinois law does not require the county auditor to have any background in accounting to hold office (let alone a license as a certified public accountant!). I advocate requiring an accounting degree or credential for county auditor rather than focusing on whether the auditor is elected or appointed.
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: I oppose a blanket moratorium on warehouse developments in unincorporated areas of the county and advocate instead such proposals be considered on a case-by-case basis, the same as any other zoning petition would be considered. Traffic congestion is an acute problem in District 22 (Route 20, McLean Blvd., and Randall Road). But what may be overly burdensome at or near the intersection of Randall and Route 20 may not be overly burdensome elsewhere. Modern life and a global economy are not possible without facilitating truck transportation.
Anyone who purports to blanketly oppose warehouse development but then orders Amazon deliveries to his doorstep is being intellectually dishonest.
The board should carefully weigh the traffic impact of all development to avoid creating overburdened traffic corridors. Where appropriate, land dedications, impact fees or other exactions to address specific attributable development burdens should be considered as a condition of approval.
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: Before any decisions are made on renovation of existing buildings or construction of new ones, the county must first complete a comprehensive review of its employment needs.
Changes in employment practices during the pandemic have shown that the county can perform many of its essential functions while allowing for some remote work and on some flexible schedules for employees.
A positive externality of these practices going forward should be a reduced need for physical work space, allowing for office space consolidation or elimination and, perhaps, shuttering or divestment of antiquated facilities.
Q: How do you think the county should spend the remaining COVID-19 relief funds?
A: The short answer is the remaining COVID 19 relief funds should be spent carefully and for the limited purpose which they were provided, namely mitigating the effects of the pandemic on local governments.
If costs, including those in the current year, can be attributed to effects of the pandemic, then the relief funds should be used to defray the same and help close any budgetary shortfall. The relief funds should not be used to fund new programs or to expand the scope of county government.
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 has provided an unprecedented level of financial support to mental health agencies and providers during the pandemic. Before providing additional discretionary support to mental health agencies and providers the county must first fund and pay for its core services and county offices.
It must also be noted that mental health ("708'") board are in place in most townships in Kane County and are charged with the responsibility for determining how to allocate mental health services funding from taxes levied in their respective townships.
Local control (in the townships) should continue to determine whether area communities wish to create mental health boards and, if created, how much property tax should be levied to fund community mental health services, and then appropriated or allocated by those boards to agencies and providers.