Candidates see commercial growth as key to Sugar Grove’s future

Photo: Sugar Grove Village Board candidate David Paluch addresses the crowd during last week’s candidate forum held at the Sugar Grove Public Library, while fellow candidates Mark Buschbacher, Kevin Geary and Mari Johnson listen. About 50 residents turned out to hear candidates for a variety of local offices, including village trustee, as well as the fire protection, park, library and school districts. Photo by Mary Herra

by Sandy Kaczmarski
Sugar Grove—A balanced budget and attracting new businesses to Sugar Grove were issues agreed upon by candidates running for village trustee at a candidate forum last week. Four candidates are vying for three four-year terms and all concurred that the village faces a tough road ahead.

About 50 residents turned out for the forum on a chilly night held at the village’s new library and hosted by the Sugar Grove Chamber of Commerce. Candidates for other local races, including Sugar Grove Fire Protection District, Park District, Library and Kaneland District #302 boards, also were allowed to speak.

Kane County Forest Preserve District President John Hoscheit explained the district’s upcoming $30 million referendum to buy additional open space now that land prices have dropped.

But it was a panel discussion of candidates for village trustee, moderated by Bo Smith of the Elburn Herald, that kept the crowd waiting. Kevin Geary and Mari Johnson, both incumbents, as well as challengers Mark Buschbacher and David Paluch, answered several questions beginning with the ongoing issue of impact fees.

When asked about cutting or eliminating impact fees to attract developers without hurting the School District, which announced a $1 million budget shortfall, the candidates agreed that new business could be the answer.

“We’ve just recently negotiated a deal with McDonald’s, a flagship type of commercial business that other businesses want to follow,” Geary said. “That’s great for us.”

Geary also suggested property taxes were another option since commercial properties pay taxes as well without putting a single child into the school system.

Johnson said the best way to encourage development without hurting the schools is to work hard to bring in commercial, retail and industrial businesses.

“Those are things that help grow our tax base and diversify the community,” she said.

Buschbacher said an interchange at Route 47 and Interstate 88 would “change the dynamics” and create a trickle down effect in drawing traffic to the area and attract more retail development. Paluch agreed that the new McDonald’s opens the door to attracting other businesses, but cautioned the village not to move too fast.

“Slow but steady growth is a good thing,” he said.

All agreed that the biggest issue facing the Village Board is finances. Johnson acknowledged that there would be difficult decisions ahead, but that the board would need to look ahead to see what needs to be done.

Paluch was optimistic despite the financial challenges ahead.

“The plus side is we are at a surplus for 2011 and project a surplus for 2012,” he said. “That’s fantastic news in this economy.”

Early voting begins Monday, March 14, and continues through Thursday, March 31, before the consolidated election on Tuesday, April 5.