WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE TWO GREATEST CHALLENGES THAT THE BOARD FACES AND WHAT SKILLS AND/OR SOLUTIONS WILL YOU BRING TO THE TABLE?
Jim Webster/Winnebago Co. Chairman – Money is the greatest challenge, never seems to be enough. Revenues are not keeping pace with expenditures. Complicating things further are rising taxes and fees from the State while issuing unfunded mandates. In light of this the second challenge is balancing a budget with limited resources. I have experience and a good relationship with all staff and department heads and will listen to them and the Board to resolve budget issues.
Joe Chiarelli/Winnebago Co. Chairman – The two greatest challenges that the county board faces in Winnebago County are interrelated. First, we need to work to resolve the deep divisions between board members and the administration. Next, we need to work on developing a comprehensive plan for the budget.
The first issue can be resolved by bringing all of the parties to the table and working out an agreeable plan for tackling issues that the board faces. In short, we need a system that will be used to address issues. Problems need to be defined so that it can be fixed. If a piece of machinery is not working, you can’t fix it by tearing apart the machinery first. The board and the administration need to work together to narrowly define that issues and then work together to solve them.
There are many moving parts in the Winnebago County Budget. It is hard to find any one person who has a handle on the entire budget. I would advocate for assembling a group of community members who are in finance and accounting roles and ask them to do a study of the numbers and systems in place in our budget. Every year the budget for the following fiscal year that being on October 1 is finalized near the end of September of that year. We need to develop budgets and projections well in advance of these deadlines.
David Kelley/Winnebago Co. District 9 – The current board disrupted county government by changing reporting structure and duties mid-term. This led to departure of key staffers, 1 having 8 years’ experience on county board.
Pamela Connell/ Winnebago Co. District 9 – 1) Getting the board to work together with what is best for Winnebago County. 2) Reviewing funds coming in and going out – balance budget without raising taxes. Complete Doctorates Degree in Leadership/Management; held VP and director positions in the past with multimillion-dollar budgets – always had a balanced budget. Past Alderman for City of Rockford Ward 6 Pre. 3. Born and raised in Winnebago County.
Kevin McCarthy/ Winnebago Co. District 11 – Winnebago County needs to focus attention on the budget and on expanding our local economy. The county board has struggled with the budget for a number of years now and must resolve this issue with better long-term planning and analysis of current spending. The past few years have been filled with budget battles over public safety that has resulted in lawsuits and budget amendments. We need to change this. Long term the county board must focus on economic development that will bring more businesses to our county and expand the base for taxes rather than raising taxes.
Isidro B. Barrios/Winnebago Co. District 12 – Being a former county board member I experienced hands on, many challenges within the county such as budgeting, over population in the jail, the infrastructure of our community as a whole. We need to bring back civility respect and integrity with our government.
Angie Goral/Winnebago Co. District 13 – Hiring an Administrator and Human Resource Persons.
UNFUNDED MANDATES CONTINUE TO COME FROM SPRINGFIELD. HOW WILL YOU SUPPORT A BALANCED BUDGET AND FUND THE NEW MANDATES?
Jim Webster - (See previous question for part of this.) We as a Board do not work closely enough with our elected officials in Springfield. I have suggested in the past to have one of them at our board meetings for updates. As Chairman I will ask for one of them to be at all board meetings on a rotating schedule.
Joe Chiarelli – I will work with the legislature to limit the unfunded mandates that local governments and county governments are forced to pay. Some mandates are impossible to reject so we need to go back to the drawing board and see where we can address previous mandates.
David Kelley – There is no magic. We fight unfunded mandates with our state delegation as best we can.
Pamela Connell – Budgets are key to run any business including government. There should always be money set aside of any new mandates. Also always look for grants etc. to help with funding (Federal, State).
Kevin McCarthy – I will work with the local elected State Representatives and Senators to help slow down the mandates from Springfield.
Isidro B. Barrios – As we all know many mandates are in need of support and budgeting. I believe we should create a deficit budget to balance out the budget. Yes, I will give my support.
Angie Goral – With caution. It will depend on mandates and the funds in the general fund balance.
AGRICULTURE AND AGRICULTURE-RELATED INDUSTRIES CONTRIBUTED $2.26 BILLION TO WINNEBAGO COUNTY’S TOTAL ECONOMIC OUTPUT IN 2012 AND PROVIDED 7,667 JOBS. WHAT ROLE SHOULD THE COUNTY BOARD HAVE IN MAKING SURE AGRICULTURE REMAINS A VIABLE INDUSTRY?
Jim Webster – Several years ago, then board member Tom Owens introduced a right to farm resolution. As a board member I have promoted and reminded board members of that. As chairman I will continue to do so. I have reminded board members that Ag is the constant driving force in our local economy, with all the talk about tourism and manufacturing they tend to forget.
Joe Chiarelli – Winnebago County should stay out of the way of those who are engaged in agriculture. It is one of the most productive parts of our economy and doing well without government interference. The county can play a role by making sure that the roads are paved and safe for the transport of the food products from the farms.
David Kelley – We make every effort to preserve prime farmland for farming.
Pam Connell – They/we should stand with our agriculture communities and support their needs. Listen, understand and fight for this industry is vital to Winnebago County and surrounding areas. Hard working families need our support.
Kevin McCarthy – The county board should work hard to make sure that the agriculture industry is supported by maintaining our roads and providing public safety in rural areas. Farmers should also have a say in any land use plans that are proposed.
Isidro B. Barrios – I believe the agriculture industry is great by working together with the farmers and addressing their needs. Farmland preservation is of utmost necessity. It is a way of survival. Without it where would America be!
Angie Goral – I would like to see a 2019 update on these figures. If these figures have declined, I would like to see what caused the decline so I can see where industry has to improve before I can make a decision.
IF A WINNEBAGO COUNTY FARMER WANTS TO BUILD OR EXPAND HIS/HER LIVESTOCK OPERATION AND HE/SHE MEETS ALL STATE REGULATIONS, WILL YOU SUPPORT THE FARMER'S PLANS TO EXPAND? IF NOT, WHY?
Jim Webster – 100% support from me. Most recently the revival of the old Gilt-Edge Hog Farm could have blown up. I took heat for my stand on that. Right to farm prevailed.
Joe Chiarelli – Yes
David Kelley – I’m on the Zoning Committee. Every case is unique and has to be considered individually. That said, I would tend to support the farmer’s plans.
Pamela Connell – Yes, I cannot think of a better business to support. My grandparents and great-grandparents were farmers.
Kevin McCarthy – Yes
Isidro B. Barrios – Yes, I will support the farmers.
Angie Goral – Yes if there is no large neighboring group opposition to the operation and it does not interfere with the surrounding environment.
PRESERVING PRIME FARMLAND FOR AGRICULTURAL USE IS ONE OF FARM BUREAU'S PRIORITIES. HOW WILL YOU HELP US ACHIEVE THAT?
Jim Webster – As chairman of the Zoning Committee I have worked toward that goal for years. I will continue to do so.
Joe Chiarelli – I think the Farm Bureau should have a seat at the table on any future land use plans and I would solicit advice on any issues that affect farmers.
David Kelley – I serve on the Zoning Committee and that is one of our major objectives.
Pamela Connell – Sit down with the Farm Bureau to learn about their practices. Work with my board members to help them understand the reasons why this is important. Whatever else I can do I will!
Kevin McCarthy – Farmland preservation can be best handled through zoning. I will support in making sure that farmers are represented on the County Zoning Board.
Isidro B. Barrios – Farmland preservation is a necessity. It is a way of survival, without it where would America be! We need to work together as a whole.
Angie Goral – It will depend on the farmer’s change of use of their land. Example-if the farmer is receiving setback income for not farming their land and they want to use it for another way to increase his income and it will not destroy the land for future use I will consider it.
IF YOU GET ELECTED, HOW WILL YOU REACH OUT TO THE NEEDS OF THE FARMING COMMUNITY?
Jim Webster – As chairman I would invite representatives of the farm community a seat at the table any time. I will promote ag at every opportunity and work with the F.B. on issues affecting the ag community. I will continue to be your voice and “toot your horn”! Thank you, Jim Webster
Joe Chiarelli – If I am elected, I will form an agriculture committee that I will meet with monthly to discuss agriculture issues. Rural areas have other issues such as public safety and I have been a very strong advocate for making sure that the Sheriff’s department is given the resources so that they can provide patrols in rural areas.
David Kelley – I deal with all constituent concerns as they arise.
Pamela Connell – I would like to reach out to the Farm Bureau to see if we could schedule a meeting, town hall meeting or something similar. I strongly believe in communications with my constituents. As Alderman, I always returned calls, e-mails in less than 24 hours.
Kevin McCarthy – Once elected I will reach out to farmers in the district and seek their input as well as attending countywide meetings of the Farm Bureau.
Isidro B. Barrios – I will make myself available through internet e-mail and by attending the Winnebago-Boone County Board Farmers Bureau to acknowledge the needs of the farming community.
Angie Goral – The same way I have in the past being on the W.C. Zoning Committee.
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