2012 election candidate questionnaire: Gary Maxwell, Champaign County Board District 1
Occupation: Retired civil engineer and land surveyor.
Political experience: Appointed to county board in 2011.
1. What do you believe is the biggest problem in Champaign County government now, and what can you as a single county board member, do about it?
The county's fiscal health is the biggest problem in Champaign County Government. The ability to solve all other County problems is a direct function of the county's fiscal situation. I have worked to become familiar with the county's budget and have been working with other board members and administrators to reduce costs. I have encouraged transparency with the Champaign County Nursing Home finances and published three related articles in the Mahomet newspaper to inform my constituents. I will continue to strive for an open, efficient and effective county government.
2. What county services currently offered should be eliminated or reduced?
Every county service has a dedicated and often vocal constituency. A committee of respected community leaders might be helpful in studying and recommending ways to eliminate or reduce ineffective county services.
3. What services should the county provide that it does not offer now?
The county's ability to fund new services is very limited. The county has many dedicated office holders who are finding ways to offer more and better service within their budgets. The board needs to encourage these officials and their staffs to continue their good work. The county board room will be reconfigured to accommodate the new 22 member Board. Improvement to the communication and television systems should better serve the county's citizens by improving access to the board's deliberations.
4. Are there circumstances under which you would vote for another increase in property taxes to support the operation of the Champaign County Nursing Home?
In my opinion questions 4 and 5 are inseparable. I believe a majority of the board, along with the nursing home board and others, will eventually conclude a referendum to raise property taxes for the operation of the home is necessary. I would support placing such a referendum before the voters providing it is accompanied by a second referendum giving the board authority to sell or close the home.
5. Are there circumstances under which you would vote to sell or close the Champaign County Nursing Home?
I believe there are circumstances beyond the control of the county board which may cause the board to ask the voters of Champaign County for the option to sell or close the home. The current fiscal problems at the home are the fault of state government. Placing the home in other hands may be the only way to save it. Therefore, I would vote to place the question before the people providing the resolution was supported by a wide bipartisan majority of the board.
6. Do you believe the downtown jail should be closed as soon as possible? If so, do you think an addition would be needed to the satellite (east Urbana) jail?
I do not believe the downtown jail should be closed as soon as possible. Instead I prefer waiting for the Jail Space Needs Study results before deciding to close the downtown jail or if an addition to the east side jail is necessary. In the mean time I favor a reasonable maintenance program for both jails.
7. What can the county board do to enhance economic development?
The single best thing the county board can do to enhance economic development is provide an open, efficient, effective and predictable county government. The board should also work to insure our land use regulations and permitting processes are fair, timely and efficient.
8. Does Champaign County need a building code?
I don't believe Champaign County government should get into the building code and code enforcement business. If the state of Illinois wants to adopt building codes and fire marshal regulations, then it should provide the enforcement.
9. Should the county or the county board do anything about a coal mine proposed for the Homer area?
The owners of the proposed coal mine have obtained signed leases with landowners for the property to be mined. The county board has no authority to abrogate those leases. The mine will be permitted and operated under state regulations. The board could and should work with area residents and mine operators to insure a safe and clean mining operation that minimizes environmental impacts and ground subsidence. Applicable portions of the county zoning regulations should be reviewed and amended if possible to minimize the impact of the mining operation within Champaign County.
10. Are there county offices that you believe can be eliminated or consolidated?
It has been suggested that the recorder's office should be combined with the county clerk's office. My duties as a professional land surveyor have caused me to search records in the recorder's office. I found the office to be efficient, friendly and effective. I suggest savings could be found by combining functions on a regional basis. For example our juvenile detention center operates significantly below capacity with a full staff. Perhaps it should become a regional facility with costs being shared by several counties. (Note: Also see question 2 response.)