Financial Blog

New Logan Lake fire hall breaks ground

Dan Leighton firmly believes he's the leader of one of the best small-town fire departments in British Columbia and he's thrilled that his volunteers will soon be working out one of the best small-town fire halls in the province.

Leighton has been the full-time Fire Chief with the District of Logan Lake for more than seven years -- he's been a professional firefighter for more than 30 years and he was one happy man on Monday morning when the official ground breaking ceremony was held to celebrate the upcoming construction of the community's new fire hall.

Mayor Robin Smith and Leighton were joined by members of council, district senior administration, many of the volunteer fire department's 28 members and numerous local citizens for the ground breaking ceremony.

Leighton couldn't hide his enthusiasm during an interview last week when talking about the new fire hall, which is expected to open in May of 2017.

"This new fire hall is very much needed in our community," said Leighton, noting the current fire hall at the municipal complex is small and old and no longer meets the community's needs. "Not only will we have a new fire hall, but it will also be home to the community's emergency operations and we'll also have a large meeting room that will be readily available to members to hold public meetings."

The Logan Lake volunteer fire department includes several women, as well as a prominent and successful junior program that has seen numerous teenagers graduate from the program and go on to become adult volunteers, said Leighton.

He's "very proud" to have such a committed, well-trained and dedicated core of volunteer members who take their job to protect the community in case of fire and other emergencies very seriously, he said.

There are currently only two junior members, but there were six last year and the program's success has been incredible, he said.

"We take them in Grade 11 or 12 and train them up ... and we invite them to stay on with us if they don't leave town to go to school or for work," he said. "By the end of their training in the junior program, they are allowed to go out on certain calls, but once they turn 19, they have to commit to receiving full training and certification.

"I've been exceptionally happy with our junior program. For the last eight years, the Youth Citizen of the Year from Logan Lake has been a graduate for our junior program here at the fire department."

Having a new state-of-the-art fire hall is going to go a long way to maintaining the current strong core of volunteers and attracting new ones, said Leighton.

Full construction is scheduled to begin in earnest this week and the plan is to have the building erected on time and on budget for the spring of 2017, he said.

"Our goal is to hold our official opening ceremony during Local Government Week in May of 2017," he said. "Our department is a strong supporter of this initiative, which is sponsored by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM).

"We're only a little over a year away and we're counting down the days."

Mayor Smith shares the same enthusiasm about the pending construction of the district's new fire hall.

Smith agrees that Logan Lake has been in need of a new fire hall for a very long time and she's thrilled the new building should be fully operational in just over one year.

"There's been talk about a new fire hall in Logan Lake for a very long time," she said. "I was first elected to council back in 2008 and I can remember that one of the first things that came up was discussion about replacing our fire hall."

The district borrowed $2.5 million from the provincial government to pay for the new fire hall and the total project budget is expected to be roughly $3.5 million when you factor in the emergency services department and all infrastructure that needs to be built, she said.

The loan will be repaid through general taxes of local residents over a 10-year time period, said Smith.

"We borrowed the money back in 2014 ... by the time the fire hall opens, we will already be three years into repaying the 10-year loan," she said.

Smith agrees there are very few communities with 2,300 residents such as Logan Lake that have such a large, well-trained and committed volunteer fire department.

"We have a really, really strong base of volunteers and all of the local residents are very happy with our fire service in this community," she said.

Maloney Construction from Kelowna has been awarded the $3.2 million construction contract and full construction continued following the ground breaking ceremony, said Leighton.

Russia may change fuel and energy sector taxation in 2017 — deputy PM

Legislative changes in Russia contemplating export duties cut and higher mineral extraction tax may take place in 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Wednesday.

These changes are not ruled out to take place already in 2017, Dvorkovich said.

The government does not expect oil prices to return to previous levels and will try to balance interests of the budget and companies in the new reality, he added.

It may well be so that the tax maneuver [change in oil export duty and mineral extraction tax rates - TASS] should be accelerated instead of delaying. This is a measure exactly providing for quicker reduction of rates along with the mineral extraction tax increase but calculations have not been completed yet, the official said. The maximal rate for the duty calculation is set at the level of 42% in 2016.

This does not oppose the earlier stated intention of authorities not to change the fiscal policy until 2018, Dvorkovich added. We said general taxes will not be increased but pinpoint changes in tax laws are taking place all the time, he added.

First published by TASS.

No, the Citizen's Plan Would Not Need Two-Thirds Voter Approval

A recent opinion piece in the Voice of San Diego argues that the San Diego Citizens' Plan ballot measure will require that two-thirds of the voters, rather than a simple majority, approve it for the measure to go into effect. The piece also asserts that the Citizens' Plan embraces more than one subject and that voters should not be able to vote on it at all.

These two assertions are unsupported by the facts and law.

As an election law attorney for more than 25 years who has represented dozens of ballot measures, officeholders, businesses and others in San Diego, I must respectfully disagree with April Boling's conclusions. Not only does the Citizens' Plan embrace a single subject - the responsible management of the city's major tourism and entertainment resources - but it does so by enacting a general tax, which requires a majority and not a two-thirds vote.

Those claiming that the Citizens' Plan requires a two-thirds vote are presumably reacting to a carefully drafted portion of the measure that enables hotels to voluntary avail themselves of tax credits by spending funds to promote San Diego as a tourist destination and/or expand the Convention Center. When one delves more deeply into the measure's terms, however, it becomes apparent that a simple majority vote, and not a two-thirds vote, is required.

The two-thirds vote requirement, which Boling refers to as a wonky campaign finance topic, is actually a simple legal concept.

General taxes are those that the City Council may use for any governmental purpose and require a majority vote, whereas special taxes are imposed for specific purposes and require a two-thirds vote. A sales tax increase, which generates unrestricted revenue, would be a general tax, whereas a sales tax increase earmarked for transportation improvement would be a special tax.

Among the reasons the Citizens' Plan enacts a general tax and requires only a majority vote are: whether hotels will avail themselves of the tax credits to promote tourism and expand the Convention Center is completely voluntary and by definition not yet known, and there is no guarantee of any funding, or any particular amount of funding, for these specific purposes; any hotel tax revenues deposited into the general fund will be used for general governmental purposes as determined by the Council, and not for any specific purpose; and the Citizens' Plan does not constitute ballot box budgeting of the type implicated when voters are asked to approve a tax to be used for a named purpose, does not tie the Council's hands relative to spending and does not involve any bonds or indebtedness.

Boling correctly notes that bond measures, where voters are asked to approve the city borrowing money for a specific purpose such as building a new library, require a two-thirds vote - but the Citizens' Plan is clearly not a bond measure and does not ask voters to approve the city borrowing any money.

A California appellate court recently concluded that a 10-cent government-imposed surcharge on paper bags in Los Angeles County was not a tax, special or otherwise, even though stores were required to use the proceeds to promote re-useable bags and related specific purposes. That court focused on the fact that the proceeds from the paper bag surcharge never went into the county's coffers - just as any money spent on tourism or the Convention Center under the Citizens' Plan does not go into the city's coffers.

The claim that the Citizens' Plan embraces more than one subject also lacks factual or legal support. The plan's elements are reasonably germane and relevant to a common theme and purpose. By raising the hotel tax, enabling hotels to make use of tax credits, and its other related provisions, the plan supports the city's major tourism and entertainment facilities. Voters get the big picture - and courts more often than not conclude that ballot measures, even those that have varied collateral effects, contain a single subject. Courts especially trust voters where the various effects are linked in the public discourse, as is the case with tourism, the Convention Center, the stadium for the City's football team and the other inter-related matters addressed by the plan.

The voters will decide whether the Citizens' Plan is good public policy. They should also be given accurate information about the legal aspects and ramifications of this important measure.

Jim Sutton is a political and election law attorney and the managing partner of the Sutton Law Firm. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    This article relates to: Chargers Stadium, Opinion

    Election Q&A

    State Senate 50th District

    Bryce Benton

    Occupation: Law enforcement officer working in homeland security

    Education: Lincoln Land Community College, associate degree. Illinois State University, BS in economics.

    Marital/Family Status: Married to Amy Benton, a professional musician and songwriter, for 9 years.

    Why are you seeking office? 

    I'm tired of seeing small town Illinois deteriorate, with shuttered storefronts from small business closing, with our young people leaving Illinois for college and never returning and with our citizens lacking the opportunity for the kinds of good jobs that would give their families greater financial security and our state an expanded base of taxpayers. I'm fortunate that I had a lot of opportunities growing up in Central Illinois, and I want our children someday to have those same kinds of opportunities. Today, too many of them don't.

    I am a fiscal conservative, and I will be a consistent conservative for the people of the 50th District. The taxpayers of the 50th District are tired of politicians who promise to be fiscal conservatives when they campaign and then turn their backs on their promises when they get to Springfield.

    As a law enforcement officer and state employee, I serve the public every day. I've never shied away or shrugged my duty off. As your state senator, I'll step up to do my part and work to resolve the many critical challenges facing Illinois and to restore the trust and responsibility our citizens are wanting from Springfield.

    What ideas do you have that will try to implement for the position that you are seeking? 

    Illinois is broke and broken, and our taxpayers should not be asked to bail out the state. I will work to protect hard-working families from having to dig deeper, systematically challenge spending and efficiency in every area of state government and work to protect the benefits that every state worker has earned. We do need to fix the state's underfunded pension program, and I believe eliminating pensions for legislators is a small but important step toward better ensuring the viability of our retirement systems. I also will sponsor a term limits proposal that will limit legislators to 10 years in office, which also will automatically limit the amount of power and influence that legislative leaders such as Mike Madigan can amass.

    The state of Illinois currently does not have a budget. What are the challenges that will impact the position/office you are seeking and how do you propose dealing with the budget impact? 

    Our taxpayers should not be asked to bail out a broke and broken government. Rather, I believe our state officials need to come together with a systematic review of the effectiveness and efficiency of our state's many programs. I will work with my legislative colleagues and the administration toward a quick and fair resolution to the budget impasse.

    It's clear that we have a major spending problem in Springfield.  For years, Mike Madigan, John Cullerton and their Chicago cronies have been running up the credit card at our expense.  Enough is enough.  We cannot continue down the same tax-and-spend path the Democrats have been following for the last dozen years. We need to eliminate wasteful spending in Springfield and rein in programs that have outlived their effectiveness so working families and small business owners can once again feel welcome in Illinois. I'm opposed to increasing general taxes, and it's premature to talk about additional revenues until we have structural reforms in the way Illinois operates.

    Illinois can't continuously raise taxes and encourage wage and job growth at the same time. It doesn't work. We need stability and predictability for our business sector. The long-term solution to the state's grave fiscal woes is to rebuild the economy, thereby creating jobs and realizing both the revenue benefit for the state and the greater financial well-being of our state's citizens.

    What do you believe are the top three issues currently facing Macoupin County and why? 

    I believe the challenges facing Macoupin County mirror those in other parts of Illinois - our job climate, the state budget impasse and the state's growing pension crisis.

    Illinois today has the second highest out-migration rate in the nation. Illinois has the second highest property taxes in the country and the most under-funded pension system in the nation. We have a $9 billion backlog of unpaid bills, and we are currently spending $37 billion with revenues of only $32 billion. We lag the nation in economic development, and more jobs are key to improving both the quality of life and financial security for citizens of the 50th district and to building a larger base of taxpayers.

    If Macoupin County and the rest of the 50th District are to grow and thrive, we must put in place the structural reforms needed to make Illinois more welcoming to small business, manufacturing and families. The long-term solution to Illinois' challenges and the current budget impasse is a stronger economy that will expand our tax base, not our tax rates.

    I'm a state employee, and I'm a union member. I believe in collective bargaining and will fight to preserve bargaining rights of all state employees covered by unions. I also will work to protect the pensions that state employees have earned and make sure that every penny promised is honored. I am not blind, however, to the impending funding crisis and will work toward a shared sacrifice solution that is fair to both employees and taxpayers.

     How has your previous experience or education prepared you to serve in the position that you are seeking?

    I'm lucky to have a career I can go to every day and feel like I'm helping make Illinois safer. I'm honored to be a part of the state law enforcement community and grateful for the work I do every day to serve and protect Illinois. I'll step up to do my part to help resolve the critical issues facing Illinois. I'll work with all to help restore the trust and responsibility our citizens are wanting from Springfield.

    My priorities are those of my neighbors and yours. A balanced budget that doesn't ask taxpayers to dig deeper into their wallets to cover a bloated state government. Pension reforms that assure our employees their retirement funds will be there when they are ready to retire. Education funding that puts more money into the classrooms rather than the bureaucracy and gives parents more choice in their children's education. Workplace reforms that encourage business and industry to invest in Illinois, creating new jobs and new financial benefits for our workers and the state treasury.

    As a law enforcement officer, I've been called into dangerous situations to protect the public. I've never shied away or shrugged my duty off. I've stepped up, and I'll do the same as a member of the Illinois Senate to help restore the greatness of Illinois for future generations.

    William "Sam" McCann

    Occupation: Owner of McCann Construction and State Senator

    Education: Attended Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey

    Marital/Family Status: Married to Vicki, two children

    Why are you seeking office? 

    To continue to represent the hard working men and women of central Illinois.

    What ideas do you have that will try to implement for the position that you are seeking? 

    Honestly, I would like to meet every constituent in the district. I have been able to travel half a million miles to be at events, whether big or small, to ensure that I know the pulse of what the people are feeling. Polls are a politician's easy way out. Looking at people in their eyes, listening to their stories and about their issues is fulfilling for me. It guides what I do in Springfield.

    The state of Illinois currently does not have a budget. What are the challenges that will impact the position/office you are seeking and how do you propose dealing with the budget impact? 

    I believe that finding a resolution to our budget stalemate is the number one priority for us in the Legislature. The citizens of central Illinois are asking for us to fix this issue. I continue to advocate for locking all of the members of the Legislature in the Capitol until we have a resolution to this budget stalemate. The uncertainty in our communities due to this stalemate is not good for economic development and growth. Our local businesses and schools want certainty whether it is dealing with taxes or funding. We need to set aside our personality differences and create a budget framework that we can live within and adhere to it. State government has consistently overpromised and under delivered. Now, with divided government, we should be able to come to some consensus to make Illinois a better place.

    What do you believe are the top three issues currently facing Macoupin County and why? 

    1. I would say the need for a state budget is one of the top priorities for Macoupin. As I previously stated, the lack of a state budget has created economic uncertainty that is harming our communities. 2. School funding is something that we need to address at the statehouse. Our schools are in need of stable funding so that we can consistently meet the educational needs of our children. We need to invest in them with that in mind. 3. Holding the line on taxes. Property taxes need to be restrained, spending needs to be held in check, and retirees need to be protected from having their retirement income taxed as many Chicago politicians have attempted to do.

     How has your previous experience or education prepared you to serve in the position that you are seeking? 

    I believe that my life experience as a husband, father, and small businessman helps guide my votes in Springfield. Understanding what the people of central Illinois are feeling and dealing with allows me to best represent them at the Capitol.

    State Representative 95th District

    Avery Bourne

    Did not respond

    Christopher M. Hicks

    Occupation: Consumer Sales Representative @Incremental Sales amp; Marketing

    Education: Heartland Community College-AAS 2011; SIU Carbondale-BS 2013

    Marital/Family Status: Single, never married, currently no children

    Why are you seeking office?

    I chose to seek the office of State Representative in the 95th District to give voters a voice for true representation. For far too long, our district and State have not moved in a forward progressive direction. It is time to move in a new direction together!

    What ideas do you have that will try to implement for the position that you are seeking?

    As a candidate for office, I would work with constituents and other lawmakers to determine appropriate measures and actions to take in order to implement effective change.

    The state of Illinois currently does not have a budget. What are the challenges that will impact the position/office you are seeking and how do you propose dealing with the budget impact? 

    It is completely unacceptable to be this far along without a budget in place that is balanced and effective. In order to address the budget crisis, we must have both parties work together to find a solution that implements a balanced and fair budget. Once that happens, Illinois can begin moving forward in a progressive direction.

    What do you believe are the top three issues currently facing Macoupin County and why?

    Unemployment due to less viable employment opportunities.

    Transportation- Although we now offer public transportation in Macoupin County, we are faced with the reality of cuts being made to this service. We need to implement steady funding for such vital services that many elderly and disabled constituents rely upon.

    Business- For many of our needs in Macoupin County, we must go out of the county. We need to start promoting our county as a viable business opportunity for investors and companies.

    How has your previous experience or education prepared you to serve in the position that you are seeking?

    I am fully prepared to serve the office of State Representative. My well rounded education and work experience have allowed me the opportunity to offer myself as a public servant to the voters. I am running to serve the constituents of the 95th House District. I am only taking a salary if elected. I will not be a career politician and will stand up and fight for my constituents!

    Dennis J. Scobbie

    Occupation: Retired High School Teacher and current adjunct faculty member at LLCC

    Education: BS and MS from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, IL

    Marital/Family status: Married to wife Louann for 39 years, with two adult daughters

    Why are you seeking office?

    I am running for State Representative to offer voters a candidate with a lifetime of leadership in bringing people together to solve problems and the experience to work on the issues that affect the hard working families in the 95th district. Central Illinois is my home. I taught and coached for over 40 years, built my own home and raised a family here. I am a lifelong Republican and support traditional values. I am pro-life, pro-family and pro-2nd Amendment. As a teacher, school board member, leader in my church and a parent, I have the experience we need in tough times. I understand struggling families need jobs and government that works for them. I have the experience to get Illinois moving forward.

    What ideas do you have that you will try to implement for the positon that you are seeking?

    I will work tirelessly to serve with distinction for the students, taxpayers, veterans and families in Macoupin County.

    Demand fiscal accountability by bringing people together to pass balanced budgets that reflect the values of citizens in the 95th district

    Support our local schools by improving the funding formula to make sure our downstate communities receive their fair share of resources and promote more local control

    Work toward solutions on the pension crisis, government waste and business regulations that our impacting growth and our holding our state back

    The state of Illinois currently does not have a budget. What are the challenges that will impact the position/office you are seeking and how do you propose dealing with the budget impact?

    The politicians in Springfield have created a mess and the state budget needs to be resolved. We need to set the right priorities for our state and produce a balanced budget that reflects our commitment to education and creating jobs. This includes eliminating government waste and reviewing unfunded mandates on business and school districts. The answer is not more taxes. Taxes are just too high on hard working families and property owners. I am opposed to increasing the state income tax and I do not support any new taxes or fees on the hard working families in the 95th legislative district.

    What do you believe are the top three issues currently facing Macoupin County and why?

    1. Improve our schools - I support changing and simplifying the school funding formula to make sure the schools in Macoupin County receive their fair share of state funding. Senator Manar is on the right track with his recent formula proposals and as a former teacher and current school board member, I am experienced and ready to work on this important issue. I want to enhance our vocational education training and college readiness programs to provide a broad range of educational opportunities for our students.

    2. Create jobs - Families are leaving this area and we need to incentivize job creation and aggressively recruit new businesses. I want to support small businesses by freezing taxes and eliminating government red tape. I also want to promote our agribusiness community and be a strong advocate for farmers and our rural families.

    3. Cutting taxes - I do not support any new taxes or fees on the hard working families in the 95th legislative district. I want to protect our homeowners by lowering our property taxes and review and repeal the tax burden our small businesses.

    How has your previous experience or education prepared you to serve in the position that you are seeking?

    I have been a teacher, award winning baseball and scholastic bowl coach for over 40 years. I am currently a school board member in Litchfield and adjunct faculty member at Lincoln Land Community College. I have been married for 39 years and raised two adopted daughters. I am active in my church and my community. All these experiences have taught me that success comes from hard work, practice, long hours, and a willingness to compromise to get things done. I think a lot of Illinois citizens are giving up and I want to step to the plate. I know we can do better. I am running for state representative to use my leadership and experience to solve problems and find solutions. I want to reinstate confidence and make life better for the citizens of the 95th district.

    County Board District Two

    William John Molinar

    Gary Rull

    Did not respond

    Francis Wieseman

    Occupation: Retired from Owen's Illinois Glass Co., Shell Oil Co., and farming

    Education: High School- Bunker Hill

    Marital/Family Status: Married to Jenny Wieseman for 53 years, we have three children and six grandchildren.

    Why are you seeking office?

    I enjoy helping people. I have worked at our local food Pantry for 7 or 8 years. People that have had problems in my district have turned to me for help and I try to solve the problem myself or contact someone who I know will be able to help.

    What ideas do you have that will try to implement for the position that you are seeking?

    I try to see to it that tax money is spent wisely. Repairing roads and bridges is important, as is the maintenance for the courthouse. With the loss of so many jobs, new jobs are important and tourism is encouraged.

    The state of Illinois currently does not have a budget. What are the challenges that will impact the position/office you are seeking and how do you propose dealing with the budget impact? 

    As a member of the Macoupin County Board I have voted to cut our salaries by 5%, which Doesn't sound like a lot but our salaries are not very large to begin with. We also asked Department heads, at the courthouse, to reduce their budgets, and they did so by 8-10%, to help with our overall budgets.

    What do you believe are the top three issues currently facing Macoupin County and why?

    1. Jobs! We need more business to hire people. The coal mine closing hurt people Working there, but it also hurt the County because of a decrease in taxes.

    2. Schools! The schools are in need of tax money and County Superintendent of Michelle Mueller is supporting a one cent facilities tax. We also support the tax.

    3. Road and Bridges! Need repair. The Bunker Hill-Brighton road was given two million dollars through Senator Durbin several years ago and we are hoping to start on it this year.

    How has your previous experience or education prepared you to serve in the position that you are seeking? 

    I have worked in industry, Owen's Illinois Glass Co. for 24 years, Shell Oil Co., 15 years and have farmed all my life, so I learned to use common sense and solve problems.

    I am currently on the County Board and serve on the Finance Committee, Road and Bridge Committee, Building and Grounds, and the Liquor Commission.

    Circuit Clerk

    Peyton Bernot

    Occupation: Substitute Teacher, Property Investor

    Education: University of Illinois Springfield graduate w/ education in legal studies and information systems

    Marital/Family Status: single

    Why are you seeking office?

    I am seeking the Circuit Clerk's position to bring new ideas to the office and the county.

    What ideas do you have that will try to implement for the position that you are seeking?

    Throughout this campaign I have run on what the Circuit Clerk's office can become, instead of what it currently is.  The ideas I have are many. I have talked to many attorneys, democrats and republicans and they all agree the office is outdated. If elected, one initiative I plan to institute within the first two years of my term is an automated court filing system. Where attorney's can file civil suits and answers to civil suits from the comfort of their office.  It is economical to the attorneys, the clerk's office, and most importantly the taxpayers.

    Throughout my term I will visit other County Clerk's offices in the tri-county area to learn about how they conduct business in their office.

    We will use money from the Court Automation Fund (established by state statute) to pay for the automation and updating.  The money in this fund is not taxpayer dollars; it is money from those who commit minor traffic infractions, such as a speeding ticket.

    We will manage court transcripts and documents better.  Within my first term every document and transcript filed within the last 10-15 years will be scanned and digitally stored then made viewable to the general public via online.  The hardcopy will then be destroyed if permitted by the Illinois State Archives.  This undertaking will be paid for by the Document Storage Fund (established by State Statute).  This fund generates money the same as the Court Automation Fund.

    These two funds combined generated $111,000 through September 1, 2013-August 31, 2014; they had a total of $877,000 cash on hand at the end of fiscal year August 31, 2014.

    The state of Illinois currently does not have a budget. What are the challenges that will impact the position/office you are seeking and how do you propose dealing with the budget impact? 

    The biggest challenge for the Circuit Clerk's office is staffing.  Over the years they have had to do more with less staff.  However, with the programs that will be instituted and paid for by funds generated through traffic fines will help alleviate the workload on the current staff and may potentially reduce the general budget of the office over a period of time.

    What do you believe are the top three issues currently facing Macoupin County and why?

    Industry, staffing, and technological gaps.

    Macoupin County does not have the industry or business to generate large amounts of tax income for County government.  We try to make with what we have and we have been doing that for a long time and we will continue to do that.

    In Benld that is what we had to do through my term as Alderman and Finance Chairman.  However, we have updated many programs, especially the water meter system.  Mayor Turcol obtained a grant that was carried out by myself to update the water meter infrastructure.  Instead of the City manually reading and writing down the meter reads they now simply drive by 3/4 of the houses and pick up the read of the meter on a hand held device which saves time.  As an Alderman we worked to find ways to save every last dollar we could, and it added up.  As I have stated throughout my campaign, in an effort to save every dollar for the County I am making the pledge if elected will contribute my own money from my salary to my pension.  The County's rate of contribution to elected officials' pensions of 18% will not apply to myself for my first term.  No taxpayer money will be contributed to my pension during this period.

    How has your previous experience or education prepared you to serve in the position that you are seeking?

    I have an education in managing information systems, and legal studies, two very important pieces of education to run an office that has to manage documents for the Circuit Court.  I have crafted 3 balanced budgets for the City of Benld as finance chairman that has resulted in 2 surpluses.  My experience in government will make me an effective county officer to streamline services and operations in the courthouse to save taxpayer money.

    Lee Ross

    Occupation: Macoupin County Circuit Clerk

    Education: High School Diploma

    Marital/Family Status: Married 33 years

    Why are you seeking office? 

    I have worked as a Court Clerk since 1987 and am now the current Circuit Clerk by unanimous County Board approval. I have first-hand knowledge of EVERY aspect of the Circuit Clerk's Office as well as extensive Courtroom experience. I am not seeking to retain this office just to have a title - I am seeking this office for the love of the job and the fact that I care about the people I do it with and the public that I do it for.

    What ideas do you have that will try to implement for the position that you are seeking?

    I was instrumental during 2008 when we began the availability to see case information on line, in 2009 when payments were able to be made on line and in March 2013 when we began digitizing each case filed. I want to next bring the availability for Judges to have scanned images not only in their chambers but bring them into the Courtroom as well. Also, we are in the beginning stages in taking steps on becoming completely electronic per Supreme Court Rule that is to be completed by January 2018.

    The state of Illinois currently does not have a budget. What are the challenges that will impact the position/office you are seeking and how do you propose dealing with the budget impact? 

    If the County is not receiving necessary funds from the State, it is going to trickle down to each office holder. Each year every official submits their budget request to be approved by the County Board. The County Board will be asking that we reduce our budget therefore each office will be carefully examining how and where monies can be saved. For instance, we are now operating with one postage machine therefore saving each Official rental, supply and postage fees within their budgets. I will keep a watchful eye on the office's spending and continually look for ways to cut costs without cutting service to the public.

    What do you believe are the top three issues currently facing Macoupin County and why? 

    State Budget Problems - if affects everyone, everywhere in some fashion.

    Education - The children are our future and greatest resource. Without State funds, budgets and programs are being cut. Not only are the schools and teachers suffering because of it, ultimately the students are as well.

    Job Opportunities Businesses are having a tough time keeping afloat. People are either having to travel a distance for employment or even move from Macoupin County to support their families.

    How has your previous experience or education prepared you to serve in the position that you are seeking? 

    I think that my 28 years of public service, experience in the Circuit Clerk's Office, extensive knowledge of each department's day-to-day operation, as well as, Courtroom procedure, personnel and budgetary involvement gives me a distinct advantage in affording the best possible service that I and my staff can give to anyone needing it within the Circuit Clerk's Office.

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