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Election Issues: Valerie Burd

Yorkville Patch asked all the candidates in contested city races the same four questions. Here are mayoral candidate (and incumbent) Valerie Burd's answers.

With election season in full swing, Yorkville Patch wanted to give readers a clear view of how local candidates compared on recent issues that surfaced before the City Council. Below are the answers from , who is running against Alderman (Ward 2) for re-election as mayor. Golinski's answers can be found here.

Come back tomorrow to see how the Ward 1 alderman candidates answered the same questions.

Mayor Valerie Burd

•  Did you vote to place a binding bike trails referendum on the April 5 ballot? Why?

I am in favor of passing the bike trail referendum, but I did not vote to put it back on the ballot.   When I put it on the November ballot,  I said I would let the voters decide and they did.  But 800+ petition signatures meant it was going onto the April 5 ballot, so it only makes sense to me for the council to vote to make it a binding referendum.   This is a one-time opportunity for our city to get the 80/20 grant from IDOT.  If we want to compete for new residents to fill up our vacant subdivision spaces, Yorkville will have to offer quality-of-life amenities.

• Looking at the water and sewer bond problem the City Council faced this winter in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, what do you think is the best solution?

The city only had one solution - put the payment on real estate taxes.  The city could not default on these payments, and we did not have sufficient revenue to cover them.  The bonds were written with taxes as collateral. If the sales tax referendum passes, then the city can abate these real estate taxes next year. Anyone who says we could cut the general fund to pay them is misinformed.  The city could have laid off every employee but police officers and not be able to meet this continuing debt obligation beyond this year. And if the city had defaulted, we would have been sued for breach of contract.  

• Looking at the water and sewer bond problem for fiscal year 2012-2013 and beyond, what do you think is the best solution? Do you favor the proposed sales tax increase?

I am the one who suggested the sales tax increase.  I don't favor it.  It's as painful in its own way as the real estate tax increase.  But unless growth picks up again, it has to be one or the other of these two taxes. I wanted to give residents a choice.  So far, response to a poll conducted for me by the Yorkville Area Chamber of Commerce shows local businesses heavily trending toward the sales tax increase as their choice between these two taxes. But the best solution is economic development. 

• How would you characterize the working relationships among current City Council members? How do you think you work/would work within that environment?  

The majority of council members get along fine - six out of nine.  Five of the current aldermen have never made personal attacks on their fellow board members or constituents, or sent false or misleading information to their constituents.  Out of the remaining three - one of those has been a continuing problem, the other two less so this past year.  When I was first elected mayor, I was surprised and a little unprepared to deal with the nastiness.  The first year seemed like one attack after another, but things did calm down. We don't always agree, but that's what democracy is all about - sharing ideas and coming up with a consensus.

Todd Milliron March 10, 2011 at 05:53 PM
Pennywise, The "Fiscally Conservative" Kendall County Board took advantage of a similar Lighting Grant in the past 12 months so you as a taxpayer of this county our benefiting from this 'Evil' Grant by having a lower electrical usage lighting bill that we taxpayers are required to pay. This Grant was used to put new LED lights in the Halls and many of the County Offices located at 111 W Fox Road, Yorkville. You probably know this building as the dreaded place where you pay your property taxes. If I remember correctly Jim Smiley, Kendall County Director of Facilities Management indicated that the pay off point for the County's match on this lighting grant was little over 2 years. Also I be going from memory here, but I think former Speaker Hastert may be a spokesman for a LED lighting Company that manufacturers this type of lighting product and that business is located in DuPage County, Naperville is what I recall. When looking to complain about Local Government Bodies that can trim their budgets I suggest you invest some time reviewing expenditures at Kendall County and CUSD #115. The Kendall Sheriff's Office would be a good place to start. Neither of these two government tax levying bodies have yet to make the reductions in their respective budgets like the City of Yorkville has, which has made cuts in the neighborhood of 25% under the Burd Administration and residents still are receiving the city services they are accustom to.
D. Smith March 13, 2011 at 04:55 AM
I am not sure that I am seeing a $3.2 million dollar cut from the general fund that you are referencing after perusing the financial documents. I believe the '07 budget was already in place which reflects that $2 million was already going to be taken out for the roads program. Smoothing this out, it would reflect general fund expenditures to be around $13.6 million. FY06 expenditures were $12.2 million, FY08 expenditures were $12.2 million, FY09 expenditures were $12.8 million, and FY10 expenditures were $12.7 million. Except for the FY07 anomaly, there has been no significant decrease in the overall expenditures coming out of the general fund. Since FY08, incrementally, the overall general fund expenses have been increasing. The budget last run in the black was in FY06, $2.2 million. Since that time, there has been a deficit, FY07 $1.3 million (taking out the $2 million mentioned above), FY08 $1.1 million, FY09 $1.7 million, and FY10 $1.7 million. Since FY07, revenues have dropped by $1 million, or approximately $11 million per year. Additionally, I questioned in an earlier post the $247K coming out of the Parks & Rec budget, the financial documents do not reflect this in the transfer of funds coming out of the general fund. In reality, it looks more like a $60K cut, but I will do some additional number crunching to verify this.
D. Smith March 13, 2011 at 05:22 AM
The bike path would be a wonderful addition; however, your first job is to get the books out of the red. Grants come and go. Maybe this grant money can be used by a community that has their affairs in order. I do not believe it advisable to put the burden on the tax payer at this point in time. This community cannot run itself the way Washington and Springfield does. They have been irresponsible; Illinois has one of the highest tax rates in our country. Washington still is running on a continuing resolution for a budget that should have been past over six months ago. So, in a word, at this point in time, given the nature of the budget and the economic downturn, given no other alternative, but to raise taxes in order to fund such a project, YES, Yorkville should take a pass on the grant money. Seek, other alternatives: private donations, fund raisers, etc.
Penny Wise March 13, 2011 at 02:02 PM
D Smith, Where have you been these last 4 years? Can I write your name in for mayor? At least you make common sense compared to most of Val's council.
D. Smith March 13, 2011 at 05:45 PM
No political aspirations here. I only am trying to sort through the posturing and rhetoric to draw a conclusion. A conclusion as to which candidate most fairly represents my ideologies. The information is out there; one merely needs to due diligence and look at the information presented on the various websites available to us. I truly believe that there are candidates who are running for office who are more closely aligned with these ideologies, but in the end, this is up to the people who want their voices heard by voting.
Penny Wise March 13, 2011 at 06:28 PM
D Smith, Wonderful! Hope everyone in our city does the same! Time for change.
In The Know March 13, 2011 at 07:10 PM
What I want to know is, what is the true cost to the city of the upcoming bike path work on Route 47? I think it is a lot less than the $1 million for the bond issue, which I understand is meant for an all-purpose bike path fund. If the true amount of the 20% matching funds is more like $200k, it would probably be an easier "sell". And I would not count on grants "coming and going" to fund the path in the future, knowing how competitive they are state-wide. If represented as a true "pay-as-you-go" project cost match, it might even be possible for the community to raise a smaller amount like $200k, rather than resorting to a property tax increase for a revolving bike path bond fund. Of course, if the community doesn't want bike paths "at any cost", that is their prerogative, too.
Valerie Burd March 13, 2011 at 09:34 PM
It was the 2007/08 budget that was in place when I became mayor. According to the official City audits, which you can look at on the City website www.yorkville.il.us and which are the City's official legal reporting of expenditures and revenues, I inherited a budget that projected revenues of $17.8 million and expenditures of $16.3 million for the general fund. The 2008 audit shows actual revenues came in at $12.2 million and actual expenses at $13.7 million (Page 18). That is without any capital expenditures, like the intown road program. So that first year alone we cut about $2.6 million off the top, while still trying to figure out the bad debt problem and paying extra legal expenses for landfill litigation (which means we had to cut other things to pay for that). The 2009 audit shows general fund actual expenditures at $10.405 million (page 18). And the 2010 audit shows general fund actual expenditures at $10,057 million (Page 19). So I actually way under reported the cuts because I didn't include cuts made to the inherited budget the first year. The actual cuts were in excess of $6 million over the four years. The parks & recreation transfer out of the general fund was $1,161,788 in the 2008 audit . The online 2010 audit shows that the final transfer to parks & rec that year was $979,500. That's a $211,000 cut right there. We made short term transfers in for cash flow purposes, but they were repaid to the general fund.
Valerie Burd March 13, 2011 at 10:11 PM
You are right - the bike trails/pedestrian pathways are about what people's priorities are, and which people running for office meet those priorities best. The other day, I was driving down one of the city's sidestreets and I saw an older man rolling his wheelchair down the street towards the Rt. 34 stores. This City doesn't have sidewalks so he can get around. That bothers me. I don't want him on a street. When I ran for mayor in 2007, it was one of my goals to make Yorkville more pedestrian-friendly. If you are dead set against that goal, you shouldn't vote for me, because if re-elected I will continue to try to get sidewalks and pathways. I think they are important for safety and economic development. These are not grants. They will not come and go. IDOT is widening most of our state highways to four lanes. They will pay 80% of the cost to put in the paved trail/ pathway during road reconstruction. They will do all the bidding, construction, and we will then kick in 20%. When bidding on each project begins, if we don't have the money, Yorkville's chance to get that deal is over. I don't believe this community will ever be so well off that we can afford to pay 100% - millions of dollars - to put in 13 miles of trail. The only other trail included in this $1 million referendum besides the Rt. 47, 71, and 34 upgrades is Kennedy Rd, where the City did just receive an ITEP grant for more than $1 million and it is an 80/20 grant.
Michael O'Connell March 14, 2011 at 12:01 AM
D smith wrote "Illinois has one of the highest tax rates in our country." This is not accurate. Yes, some states have a lower income tax rate, like Indiana, but Indiana also has county and local income taxes which are not reflected in the aggregate value of tax on income. Illinois is lower than most, and we have a lower percentage of State employees per capita, than most. Illinois is one of three midwest states (Illinois, Colorado, Texas), which has a had a growing economy. Our tax base is based on home values, and it is no secret, the larger the home the higher the income. The answer to our financial dilemma is to be the magnet which attracts wage earners to live here. Part of this solution is to develop our community, which includes the bike paths. Before I brought my family here, I looked at the communities, and checked out the schools ratings. If the community looks ran down, and the schools have a bad track record, I wouldn't move to it. There is no comfortable solution to our financial situation, but any opportunity to improve our streets at a 80% discount, is risky to pass up.
Yorkville Resident March 14, 2011 at 02:46 PM
Mayor Burd, off topic from the bike trails, but I also posed this question to Mr. Golinski: what are your plans for attracting economic development to Yorkville?
Tired of Taxes March 14, 2011 at 10:24 PM
Let me ask you a couple of questions. If you could not pay your monthly bills and you had a charge card with a zero balance and a 10,000 credit limit, would you go out and charge $10,000 worth of things that you wanted for your home? Say like new furniture & carpeting. I would hope that the answer would be no, but I am not so sure. It's the same with the city, they don't have enough money to pay their bills. That is a simple fact. That is why they had to raise everyone's property taxes by $300-$400 a year approximately, to pay their bills. Now the city has decided that it wants the new furniture & carpeting too. Well guess who gets to pay for that-I do. Sometimes the hardest part about being a responsible adult is in knowing that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should because you know deep in your heart that it is wrong. Don't beleive the new slogan on this website "Just a dollar a month" that is an incomplete statement. $1 a month for a) 20 years or 240 months b) just for the cost of installing it, not the maintanence of it. or c) we can't give you the actual price because we havn't calculated it yet. If you want a bike trail-fine vote yes. Just make sure your neighbors can afford it too, otherwise you'll be living in a neighborhood surrounded by boarded up houses and foreclosure notices. What will that do to your property values then?
Corey Johnson March 15, 2011 at 02:27 AM
“What is the true cost to the city of the upcoming bike path work on Route 47?” Kennedy Road-Route 47 to Mill Road, 3.01 miles, City cost $162,680 Now this is the first phase of the Rt. 47 work that is expected to go out for bid in November. Also there is the second phase of Rt. 47 Route 47-Kennedy Road to Route 30, 3.78 miles, City cost $194,0406. There are a couple of things to remember here, these are engineering estimates, so the work could be a little more or less depending on market conditions and the second phase of the Rt. 47 work will go out for bid a couple of years from now. More information on the other segments of trail can be found at the City of Yorkville website http://www.yorkville.il.us/ProposedBikeTrailFAQs.php The Yorkville Bike Trail Promotional Committee will be hosting two informational meetings in the Rush-Copley Community Conference Room at the Rush-Copley Healthcare Center located at 1100 West Veterans Parkway, on Thursday, March 24th from 6-8pm and Saturday, March 26th from 10am -12pm. Bring any questions or concerns that you may have, everyone is invited to attend. Committee members will be available to answer any questions that you may have and in the meantime you can visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Yorkville-Bike-Trails/170076363014040?v=wall and check out the discussion area for more information.
mike March 15, 2011 at 04:17 AM
I believe you were on the previous council and voted us into debt with the "previous administration". You can't remove yourself from your previous administration actions no matter how hard you try. Remember, the residents voted in November AGAINST the bike trail. I am holding you responsible for allowing this to return and be placed on the ballot. What don't you understand about "NO"?
mike March 15, 2011 at 04:21 AM
Tired of Taxes, I totally agree with you. The majority of elected officials (there are several exceptions) will continue to spend, spend spend. They should remember ... NOTHING is free! There appears to be a lot of false, inaccurate information regarding the bike trail being spread around. I can't afford any increases in my taxes.
mike March 15, 2011 at 04:29 AM
Response to Tod Milliron. Are you attempting to take the heat off of Burd and Stucliff by attacking Kendall County, former speaker Hastert and the Sheriff in your above statement? They (Burd and Stucliff) are a part of the council that continues to SPEND, SPEND SPEND without a penney in their pocket. Ladies ... the well has run dry!
Valerie Burd March 15, 2011 at 04:35 AM
Some of the things I've been working on: continue to work with Oswego to get a Metra station at Orchard Road (this is moving forward with Cong. Hultgren's support); also, I am working with Oswego on siting a very large solar power plant south of the city (this would include negotiating a boundary agreement with Joliet right after the election. Talks are already taking place.) Those two are large-scale and the last is only in the preliminary stages. I've held several meetings with downtown businesses to discuss Rt. 47 widening and we've drawn up plans for a new parking lot and backside facades for stores fronting on Rt. 47. The Mason building will soon begin construction on such a facade. I've been trying to encourage local businesses to take advantage of the boon the new whitewater park is going to bring the downtown, even holding a marketing workshop for them with the director of the Aurora Area Convention and Visitors Bureau last year. With the largest water park and the only whitewater park in the state, Yorkville is clearly headed toward becoming a recreation destination and we should focus on that. I suggested we take advantage of the ComEd easement we lease between the downtown and Raintree development and instead of trying to make that a regular bike trail (cost $2.5 million) we put in an off road bike trail (cost is only for signage). That will attract a whole other group of people into the downtown. These are only a few of my ideas and efforts.
Bob Allen March 15, 2011 at 12:32 PM
At last night's, candidate forum, many issues were discussed. Both Mayor Valerie Burd and challenger Gary Golinski attended the event at Heritage Woods. Ward 1 candidates Carlo Colosimo and I also spoke to the large crowd. With the internet and media, it is hard for voters to see the candidates. In national and state elections, we are very dependent on the media for our information about the candidates. The Patch offers an unfiltered view of the people and issues that will effect Yorkville in the next four years. Candidates are able to share their concerns. However, there is also no filter for spammers and trolls. If you were a member of the city council, you would use tax money to pay for police, snow plow drivers and repairs to the water system. This is money that officials SPEND, SPEND, SPEND. That is why the city gets money. The city has resources. Money is tight, but the well is not dry. Mayor Burd has cut the city budget from $16 million to $10.7 million to make sure that Yorkville can provide services to the residents. Her careful stewardship of the city resources has allowed our city to prepare for the future. It is a very difficult job to provide for the needs of the city while balancing the needs of the citizens. There were many questions asked at last night's forum. These were local residents who appreciated the efforts of the candidates to respond to their concerns. I hope that all candidates can respond to serious questions here on Patch.
Shawn B March 15, 2011 at 12:44 PM
Bob, How would you handle the sewer bond deficit in 2015? Better than the mayor did last night? http://yorkville.patch.com/articles/election-video-burd-colosimo-debate-sales-tax#video-5270484. Can you answer please?
Bob Allen March 26, 2011 at 01:47 PM
The Rob Roy sewer bond decision was made by the city council. The motion itself was made by Ward 4 Alderman Rose Spears. If we did not have that motion, we would not have to face the balloon payments which are coming due. In 2015, the largest payment will be due. The cost of this project was not supposed to be born by current Yorkville residents. Development fees and hook-on fees were supposed to pay for it. As I warned the council in 2003, we are facing the problems of "out-of-control" growth. I saw this whole thing coming back in 2003. But the same people who were opposed to Valerie Burd then are opposed to her now. They are trying to drown out the truth. Money for the sewer bond could come from sales tax revenue under the sales tax proposal. But you have to understand this. The best solution is economic development . Just as things were not as good as they seemed in 2003, they are not as bad as they seem now. The housing market is turning around, The unemployment picture is improving. Although the previous administration's projections of 70.000 Yorkville residents was overly optimistic, I think that we will see some growth by 2015. With growth, revenue to cover the sewer bond deficit will be flowing into city coffers. Part of this burden will fall on new development. We will be okay. Thanks for your question. I hope to see you on Monday at the candiates forum at city hall.
mike March 26, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Do you have any documentation to support your claim that in 2003 YOU identified problems with the city's out of control growth? I believe it was Rose Spears that requested the city council consider a one-year residential moratorium. I know this is true, I attended the meeting back then. Rose stated she was concerned with the rapid growth and asked that consideration be made to evaluate the impact on roads, schools and the community. The elected officials (including Burd) denied her request. Recently in researching newspaper articles (February 2001),I discovered when you served as treasurer you cost the city a considerable amount of tax dollars. Can you explain how you neglected to file the standard State forms for two years, to allow the city to receive utility taxes. The article indicates the amount was $100,000. In a follow-up article you claimed you warned the elected officials during a meeting. In a second 2001 follow-up article, the meeting tapes were listened to and there was no mention of your warning. You simply mis-managed city funds at a tremendous cost to the taxpayers. I wonder what funds would be "lost"if you are elected as an alderman?
Bob Allen March 26, 2011 at 04:14 PM
The Mayor has stood for open government. She has protected Yorkville from some very dishonest people. Just like I am willing to give my last name, and you are not: I deserve to be trusted and you do not. In 2001, supporters of the previous administration made this accusation. The truth came out in the Kendall County Record. The city clerk's office failed to file the "state form" which you confusingly refer to. This omission resulted in some residents not paying utility taxes for a time. The clerk's error cost between $40,000 and $100,000 in lost revenue. That would not have covered he $25,000,000 in debt that the previous administration has saddled Yorkville taxpayers with. If you read my candidate profile and my letters to the editor in the Kendall County Record in 2003, you will see my concern with Out of Control growth. In October 25, 2005, Alderman Rose Spears voted to borrow $11.3 million for the Rob Roy Interceptor. This project was supposed to be paid for with revenue from new homes. Why would Rose then support a one-year residential moratorium? Where does she think the money would come from to pay these bonds?
mike March 27, 2011 at 02:44 PM
Mr. Allen, I can understand why you support the mayor. You appear to twist the truth as she does. Check the Record (02/09/01) YOU were responsible for not filing the state form. Record article (02/14/01) YOU claimed you noticed a shortfall and brought it to the aldermen's (including Burd) attention. The clerk and several aldermen reviewed the meeting tape and you NEVER expressed your concern. Again twisted story! If staff did not discover your costly error, the City would have been short millions of dollars or at least until you were removed from office. in reviewing the minutes, I believe the motion was seconded by Burd! It takes the majority of council to pass any motion. Review the mayor's campaign contributions. After passing the motion to place the bike trail question on the ballot, she received a large contribution from the union that distributed the questionable petitions. Where is your documentation regarding your concern for out f control growth? You never provide exact dates for your twisted stories. You are similar to Al Gore when he claimed he invented the internet! By the way ... he didn't get elected either!
kpfarrer March 27, 2011 at 02:58 PM
mike - Al Gore didn't claim to have "invented the internet". Do some research.
Tired of Taxes March 27, 2011 at 03:03 PM
Bob, I have attended city council meetings. If a topic is up for discussion, then somebody has to make a motion to vote on it, and then the motion has to be secondened before it can be voted on. You make the comment above that it was Rose Spears that made the motion to vote on the sewer bonds. Somebody at the meeting had to. If not Rose then someone else would have had to so they could vote on it. You never said though what Rose's vote was on the issue. I don't know, that is why I am asking you how Rose voted? If you want to run for alderman, that is fine. I appauld your efforts for wanting to serve and get involved in your community. In the past, I have voted for you, but unfortuantely not this time. I have actually already cast my ballot in the early voting. Your passion is admirable, but I believe some of your comments and fingerpointing are a little misdirected. I have heard so many "spins" on the facts and "distortions of the truth" out of the majority of the current city council that I simply don't believe them anymore. Sometimes you have to learn to "read bewteen the lines" to find the "real truth and the facts".
Bob Allen March 28, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Rose aka "mike" Here is the quote from the 65 ILCS 5/8-11-2 CHAPTER 65 MUNICIPALITIES of state statute: Upon adoption of the ordinance authorizing the exemption, the municipal clerk shall transmit a copy of that ordinance to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Therefore, as the Kendall County Record has reported, the clerk files the required paperwork to collect utility taxes. NOT THE TREASURER. But, of course, you know this because you were on the city council at that time. There is only one person who would say the things that "mike" is saying. That is you, Rose.
Robyn Sutcliff March 28, 2011 at 12:35 AM
Facts are facts. 2007 city budget, $16 million 2010 city budget $10.7 million CUT CUT CUT CUT Since the election of 2007. Please stop lying.
D. Smith March 28, 2011 at 02:16 AM
Total city expenditures have remained consistent, and for the most part, unchanged. Total city revenues have fallen. Ergo, enter the deficit.
Robyn Sutcliff March 28, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Facts are facts. Per the audits. 2007 city budget, $16 million 2010 city budget $10.7 million CUT CUT CUT CUT Since the election of 2007. …
All Eyes On Me April 06, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Bob for all the times you bullied Rose on here I think you should apoligize on here.

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