Bob Fine, Candidate for Naperville Township Trustee

The NTDO has offered candidates in the April 9 Municipal Elections an opportunity to address our readership.  This message comes from Bob Fine, candidate for Naperville Township Trustee:

Bob Fine

I am Bob Fine, and I am one of four Democratic candidates for the four open positions of Naperville Township Trustee, along with Max Bochmann, Ron Allen and Richea Dougherty. I earned my bachelor’s, master’s and law degrees from the University of Michigan, and spent my career in real estate law focused on the best interests of those I served. A resident of Naperville for nearly fourteen years, I got involved in the Naperville Township Democratic Organization after I retired from the law. In turn, I got involved with the issues committee of the Democratic Party of DuPage County, where I learned about township government. I found a government that operates in the shadows, serving the interests of a very few at the expense of many, and I saw the lack of transparency and accountability that allows it to go on; I was appalled. Ultimately, I decided to redirect my career-long focus on my clients’ best interests to my neighbors in Naperville Township. I could go on a lot more about me, but this is not about me; it’s about you and your township government.

Our opponents are running on the record of their predecessors, at least one of whom, by the way, they liked so much they locked him out of the Republican caucus. What are their claims?

  • Claim: They’ve lowered tax rates. The tax rate is not your bill. My own township bill is 22% higher than it was in 2000, and my township road bill is 10% higher than it was in 2000. What reduction? I bet if you look at your bills over the years, you will see the same pattern.
  • Claim: Lowest salaries. Until his term begins next year, the assessor has been the highest paid assessor in the state. The road commissioner’s compensation has not been cut along with the others, and he’s the only one of them running for re-election. Ask them about full ride health benefits and IMRF pensions, and the road commissioner’s SUV, all in addition to compensation. Their strategy in the past has been to raise salaries dramatically and then lower them (not so dramatically) and take the credit at election time. Once they no longer feel the press of Democratic candidates breathing down their necks, what will they do at their next opportunity?
  • Claim: Service, service, service. What service? If you are one of the 96% of Naperville Township residents who also live in the Cities of Aurora, Naperville and Warrenville, you will rarely see the services they crow about – roads (all of twenty miles), and savings from trash pickup and electrical aggregation referenda – but you will pay the same taxes as the 4% who do. Like Mitt Romney’s 47% and the Occupy Movement’s 1%, the percentages say a lot. General Assistance (GA), a small amount of money to help those who’ve fallen on hard times, is administered by our township by state law but reaches only a handful of people. One third of the GA budget for the year now ending went to administrative overhead.
  • Claim: Sound finances while abating the levy. Sorry, but here’s where we’ve got to look at the numbers; they offer none, so we have to. The Township historically maintains unreasonably high surpluses – according to the audited financial statement for FY 2010, the Township made operating expenditures of under $3M, but took in operating revenue of nearly $3.7M, leaving a total operating fund balance at the END of the fiscal year of nearly $4.6M!. For FY 2011, the Township made operating expenditures of $3.3M, but took in operating revenue of over $4M, leaving a total operating fund balance at the END of the fiscal year of $5.1M! Surpluses are justified to bridge the gap between the end of the fiscal year in March and the transfer of the first half of property tax collections from the County to the Township mid-summer. But if I collect way more from you than I need, preserve or enlarge a surplus sufficient to operate the Township without a single dollar in tax revenue for a year, and put it in the bank, I can be a hero when I reduce the tax levy next year. Of course, if they posted the budget and the audited financial statement on the website (which they don’t), you could see that for yourself. Your Democratic township administration will budget prudently, but we will trim our surpluses as a part of the budget process, not as a special event to make the newspapers. Boring.

Our Democratic slate is committed to creating a culture of transparency and accountability so that you will know what services the Township provides, who gets them (respecting the privacy of aid recipients), how much they cost and who pays for them. We are committed to taking full advantage of our website to provide the information citizens need, proactively, like budgets, financial reports, board meeting minutes, job openings, contracts, etc., so you can make informed judgments about the performance of township officials and the future of township government, not just when the leaves get picked up in unincorporated areas. We are committed to getting citizens involved in township government and the services we provide – to seniors, veterans, youth and the disabled – to guide government in its responsible pursuit of the community’s best interests and also to expose the workings of government to the public eye. And we are committed to collaboration with other local governments in DuPage County to serve more people with lower per mile and per capita costs in equipment and administration, eliminating duplication and over-capacity.

We know how well Democrats did in DuPage County and particularly in Naperville Township last November. It would be a shame if we lost the opportunity to make history in DuPage County by electing a diverse, Democratic board, because we stayed home on April 9. Vote early, vote absentee, or vote on April 9, but VOTE!!