Readers of this blog, and to the community in Carpentersville … what are the needs of the community? What is it that Trustees are supposed to do?
There are so many answers for that – unique to each resident, and as wide and diverse as the members of our community. There are so many things that I just don’t have the answers to, and as I’m learning – so many intricacies that I have to learn. It is true, that my experience and understanding pre-dispose me to focusing on Public Safety. I won’t try and hide that fact. It’s something that our Village Board has had a true lack of insight about, and it’s a fundamental part of what makes a community, a village, exist. But there are more things than that.
I drive our streets daily, both on and off duty – and the most striking example of the blighted areas of our town are the empty business spaces. Hundreds of them, from Route 25 to Randall Rd. The issue that we don’t hear talked about a lot is the difference between our sales tax and property tax revenue. With such an extensive array of store fronts available in our community and an industrial park, our sales tax to property tax revenues are ridiculously low. Our Village focuses on NEW construction, new businesses to come in. WalMart has been hailed as the savior of our sales tax revenue. But what does that mean? It seems we are hoping to win the lottery instead of working to make our money a little at a time. Trouble is – we KNOW we can generate revenue with each store front, but our Village Board is HOPING instead that the big store will come along and solve the issues. Each empty store front you see represents lost revenue. Just drive around – you’ll see it too. Add up the dollar signs in front of each store front – how much sales tax could all those empty spaces generate? If they were all full – would our property taxes need to be so high? Would the sales tax need to be so high? I’d argue NO to both. Here’s my list of ideas that I’d like to get accomplished. Mind you, these aren’t solutions. We have to identify the problems and engage the right people to help us come up with solutions – even Village staff isn’t all knowing.
- Creation of a Resident Ambassador Commission.
- Made up of willing residents, with an equal number from the East Side, West Side and Old Town area, to discuss issues with in the Village, and recommend to the board solutions to the problems. Each Ambassador would be responsible for bringing issues from residents in their area to the attention of the Village through the board, and would have “authority” to engage with any staff member they see fit to develop a solution. Any and all ordinances effecting our Residents would go through this board for approval before heading to the Village Board.
- This group will also be responsible for recommending ways to engage the community with itself. Growing up, some of my fondest memories were our yearly block party. Public Works would close off the street, the grills would be pulled out into the middle, picnic tables set up, music blasting and we’d race our bikes from one end to another all day. Why doesn’t Carpentersville have this? This commission would be responsible for exploring ways to put together Village sponsored gatherings in the park, encouraging community block parties, formation of community watch areas etc…
- Restructuring of the Business Commission.
- Instead of having 6 members, it’s imperative that we redefine what this board does. First, it should be made up of a snapshot of our Businesses – small business owners, medium and large scale businesses. Sales and Industrial. I’d recommend a board of 15 business owners. Their responsibility would be to look at our ordinances, policies and fees and recommend changes that would entice new businesses to come in and occupy existing spaces. It would be the responsibility of this board to recommend changes that ensure building safety and public safety are not diminished by the changes.
- Restructuring of Board Meetings
- Each town operates a little differently. I think some towns have a better system. We have 2 meetings per month. Based on how we utilize the consent agenda already, there seems to be little point to having 2 meetings a month that are short and sweet when it’s apparent the People aren’t being heard. I’d like to see our Board split the meetings up. The first meeting of the month should be a time for residents and businesses to come before the board, unrestricted in time, and address issues. This time can also be used for Board Members to ask questions of the speakers to ensure they fully understand the issues. The second meeting would then be “Business” – bills, ordinances, etc. Having more time for residents to address the board is paramount – 5 minutes simply stifles those that speak and discourages others to speak too.
I believe our image isn’t a result of board meetings, arguments or bad press. Every village experiences those from time to time, and they are quickly forgotten. Our Image is a result of what people see – what they experience. When new businesses are confronted with a litany of fees – that’s an image. When we drive down route 25, route 31, huntley/main street or randall rd only to see a host of empty spaces – that’s an image. When new residents look at our Village as a new home, they see all the empty homes in foreclosure – that’s an image. When people drive on our streets and feel the condition – that’s an image. Redoing a park, studying the river front, looking at washington/main street redesign, walmart; those won’t help our image, they are just putting lipstick on a pig – the pig is still there, and it still looks like a pig. To change our image, we need to change the very issues that lead to our image.
To change our Image, we need Trustees who are willing to change the way the Village does business. It’s time for that change.