Candidates for contested county board races were given the opportunity to answer a series of questions about county government. Here are the answers from Tod Satterthwaite, a Democrat candidate in District 7:
Owner, Kickapoo Landing
Mayor, City of Urbana, 1993-2005
1. Name five things you would like to accomplish in the next two years on the Champaign County Board.
1. A decision on the facility needs of the jail. The decision should be based on the assessment of the consultant who will be making recommendations on alternatives to incarceration, the feasibility of remodeling the Downtown Jail, the feasibility of adding on to the Satellite Jail, the long-term costs of operation with each option including staff salaries, the cost of mothballing or demolishing the Downtown Jail if necessary, cost of facilities for the Sheriff's office if necessary and the costs of boarding prisoners outside of the county if necessary.
2.Adopting an energy efficiency policy for County buildings.
3. An assessment of how the County Board can promote efficient building standards throughout the County.
4. Budget stability for the Nursing Home.
5. An assessment on how the County can use its highway budget and other tools to promote compact development in cities and towns and discourage sprawl.
2. What criticisms do you have of the current county board?
Sometimes County Board members seem to view themselves as staff members of the County rather than taking their role as policy makers. Issues should be professionally studied by the staff and presented to the Board for the policy decisions.
Discussion often goes on longer than seems necessary.
3. Under what circumstances, if any, would you vote for another increase in property taxes to support the operation of the Champaign County Nursing Home?
With the new facility, the existing County subsidy and proper professional management, the Nursing Home should never need additional support from property taxes. When state and federal money is slow in coming to the Nursing Home, we need to apply all the pressure that we can to get those payments facilitated.
4. Under what circumstances could you vote to sell or close the Champaign County Nursing Home?
I think the Nursing Home should continue to be a function of County government.
5. Would you vote to increase the $60 per diem paid to county board members?
6. Which county offices, if any, do you believe could be eliminated or consolidated with another county office?
I would favor implementing efficiencies in county government by consolidating offices if it is possible. An assessment of the current functions and staffing would be necessary to see if it is feasible.
7. What specific actions could be taken to cut the county budget?
Since staff salaries make up the vast majority of the county's budget, cuts would most likely mean a reduction in staff. An assessment of the current staffing levels should be done to determine if there are possible savings in this area.
8. Do you think the downtown Urbana correctional center should be closed and all of its functions moved to an expanded correctional center on Lierman Avenue in Urbana?
I think it's too early to tell. A consultant will be making recommendations in the coming months, I look to make my decision when that information is available. (See my answer to #1 above)
9. What programs and services that the county does not provide, if any, do you think are needed?
The Sheriff's office has indicated that some inmates are frequent repeat offenders. I would like to see if there might be a program available to target those individuals to see if that cycle can be stopped.
10. Do you believe the county should take on part of the financial obligation to operate Willard Airport as an economic development tool? Why or why not?
The State of Illinois has funded Willard over the years in the University's budget. I would like to see it stay that way rather than having the State pass this financial obligation to residents of Champaign County.
11. What can the county board do to enhance economic development locally?
1. Adopting 'Smart Growth' policies. No business wants to come to an area that repeats the mistakes of communities across the country that have resulted in sprawl and low density development. This type of development puts a burden on our infrastructure and creates long commutes. 2. Run the County functions professionally and efficiently.
12. With a smaller county board in December, do you think the county board meeting room should be reconfigured at an undetermined cost to improve communications among board members and to enhance television coverage of the board?
TV coverage could be improved with some equipment updates, but I don't think the configuration of the meeting room needs to be changed significantly just because of the change in the number of County Board members from 27 to 22.