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Guest Column: County board members tell half-truths
By Nichole Larison Sammon
Fox Ridge Subdivision
It is election time again, and the rhetoric is in full force. Incumbents work hard to make their past years of service sound notable and inspiring, so much so we as citizens should thank our lucky stars we voted them into office.
Tired of the half-truths and deceptive statements spread throughout numerous avenues by our county board members and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen, in their re-election campaigns, our team of investigators has decided to set the record straight. Below are statements made by many current county board members and Chairman Scott Christiansen.
We’ve cut out pensions for Winnebago County Board members!
REALITY — The Winnebago County Board cut out pensions for FUTURE board members, not the current incumbents attempting to take credit for such a maneuver. All current board members who have earned their pensions will get to keep it. It is also important to note, if they can vote away pensions, they have the power to vote them back in once they get re-elected.
We’ve saved the county money by cutting the size of the county board from 28 to 20 representatives!
REALITY — The county board reduced the number of county board members from 28 to 20, reducing our representation by 30 percent, but increased the pay to each board member to $8,500 from $7,500. It is true the total cost will be lower for the county board members’ salaries, but that is a pay increase of just more than 13 percent. Can you, as a regular citizen remember when you received a raise of that magnitude? To put it into perspective, Boone County Board members, who clearly understand the concept of hard times, have just voted to give themselves a pay cut of around 15 percent.
Along with that issue, who decided that 20 representatives would be better than 28? Did the math work out better for some individuals? Now, all you need to do is manage 10 representatives on your side, and you can get anything passed in our county.
The County Board LOWERED your property taxes last year (2011)!
REALITY — The Assessor’s office lowered our property values about 4.99 percent for most county residents, but the county board voted to RAISE the county levy rate two times to make up for the loss. The first vote was .02 per 100 assessed value. The second vote was .08 per 100 assessed value. The net result, the 4.99 percent cut we could and should have seen, was virtually wiped out by the Winnebago County Board members.
The county board has lowered the total County budget from $220M to $182M in eight years!
REALITY — Eight years ago, the Forest Preserve’s budget was part of the overall county budget. In 2009, the Winnebago County Board voted to make the Forest Preserve a completely separate entity, with its own separate board and budget. Additionally, last year in 2011, the county board RAISED the 2012 budget for all county offices by 5 percent; this is not a decrease, it is a $9 million increase.
I am proud to have served as part of the Winnebago County Board!
REALITY — At many forums across this county in preparation for the elections, when Chairman Christiansen needed convincing support present in the room, the current county board members did not disappoint. In introductory statements, each board member would talk of how proud they were to serve with Christiansen and other present board members. In reality, they meant to say they were proud to have pushed through their agendas and special interest requests, rolling over ordinary constituent concerns and citizen advocate Steve Schultz’s consistent objections. Steve is and has been the lone vote on the county board against these laden schemes. In the end, the rest of the board members are proud they spin and conceal the truth from us all.
Don’t let the rhetoric and half-truths told by the Winnebago County Board members win over your vote. Do your own research. Remember to vote in the Republican Primary March 20.
From the Feb. 29-March 6, 2012, issue