Tag Archives: John Hoscheit

KC Chairman says future looks bright, despite sour economy

Photo: Forest Preserve President John Hoscheit and County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay speak at a luncheon sponsored by the Geneva and St. Charles Chambers of Commerce at Pheasant Run Resort on Tuesday. Courtesy Photo

by Sandy Kaczmarski
Kane County—Kane County is in a position to take advantage of future growth opportunities as a result of the fiscal prudence taken by the County Board during the last 10 years, according to the board chairman.

County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay told a group of about 60 business people that the hard work, “sometimes contentious work,” of the County Board is what has put Kane’s finances on solid ground.

“While many government chief executives have been facing financial catastrophes, I can tell you that Kane County is in a solid financial position as we look to the future,” McConnaughay said.

A county update luncheon was co-sponsored by the Geneva and St. Charles Chambers of Commerce at Pheasant Run Resort on Tuesday. Forest Preserve President John Hoscheit also spoke and talked about the recently approved referendum for $30 million for land purchases.

McConnaughay said the board knew even before the economy turned sour that the enormous demand for services and infrastructure would not be far behind. As a result, the board worked to “keep a tight rein” on spending and to build up reserves.

“We believed these policies were sound when we first pursued them in the last decade,” she said, “But they were most importantly the saving grace for us when we ran into the worst recession we’ve seen in generations.”

While unemployment remains at about 8 percent, McConnaughay said several areas with job potential in the future include finance and healthcare, education, and professional services.

She said one of the biggest challenges facing local governments today is the issue of pensions. McConnaughay said $20 million of the county’s budget is spent on pensions and healthcare costs for its 1,300 employees. She said future government employees will not enjoy the same pension benefits as those currently in government have in place.

Population growth projections, regardless of the economy, remains at 800,000 by the year 2040. That is why the board is looking into public transportation possibilities and creative land use management, which McConnaughay said means housing that encourages walking to work, school, and for shopping.

Despite the successful passage of three previous referenda, Hoscheit said it was risky to ask the voters to approve another in light of the depressed economy.

“We’re in an economic situation where we have great opportunities to acquire land,” he said. “What was going for $90,000 an acre is now between $10,000 and $20,000 an acre.”

He said the day following the election, Forest Preserve offices were flooded with phone calls from banks and other land holders wanting to sell their property.

Hoscheit said the referendum will allow the district to take advantage of various matching grants available and partnering with local park districts in helping them with land purchases.

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.