Candidate Lillian Schneider talks about why you should vote for her
Name: Lillian Schneider
Office seeking: Alderman - Ward 1
Occupation: Self-employed. Owner and operator of a cleaning service.
Previous and current elected offices and terms served: Alderman - Elected alderman Ward 7 and after redistricting, alderman at large 2011-2015.
Why are you running? First, I believe that when the leaders in our community listen to people, government can make a difference in the lives of those it serves. I am a true independent that will listen to my constituents of Ward 1 and make sure their voice is heard. Second, I believe in public service. While we in Belleville have sometimes been let down or deceived by those we have trusted to represent us, I will serve honestly. Aldermen play a vital role when it comes to important policy matters. Belleville is facing serious problems that the City Council must play a role in solving. Decisions made by city leaders regarding issues like pension funding, taxes, TIF and city debt will impact all of us for decades to come. I am also running because we face big infrastructure challenges as a city, we cannot ignore the concerns of residents in the neighborhoods that we call home. I will be a leader in the effort to build walkable, livable, safe and sustainable neighborhoods that nurture both people and our local businesses. I promise I will put the Ward 1 first. Working together, we can accomplish big things.
What is the most important issue facing the city of Belleville? How would you approach it? The city is currently facing three major issues: Crime (which I have addressed below), infrastructure and debt. Our roads are in deplorable condition. We desperately need pavement management implemented into our city so we can determine what streets, curbs, gutters and sidewalks are the worst and will be first on the list for repairs. I would like to see the street department grow and take on more in-house repairs. Our streets need to be addressed by their condition not who lives along the street. Belleville can’t afford anymore spend-now-pay-later city budgets. When it comes to decisions about long-term borrowing, our City Council needs to take a strong, proactive approach. Borrowing and bonding for today’s construction projects is not a sound fiscal policy. We have nickel and dimed taxpayers. As your alderman, I will take a proactive approach and ask my fellow aldermen to undertake an in-depth examination of all our options, so short-term year-to-year solutions become a thing of the past. Annual budget workshops for each department is a must.
In 2013, the Belleville City Council approved a 0.25 percent sales tax increase that is set to expire this year. Explain whether you support or oppose the continuation of this tax and whether you support either or both of the 1 percent sales tax referendums on the April ballot in St. Clair County. The city receives approximately $1.1 million to $1.2 million per year for the 0.25 percent sales tax. I am opposed to reinstating this tax and would request the city cut waste and restructure the way the city does business. Taxpayers struggle every day to make ends meet, the city increases the property taxes by 5 percent year after year, the city treasurer has increased the sewers bills by 8 percent year after year and 1 percent sales tax is the customary request these days i.e. school tax, safety tax, business district tax, city sales tax, gasoline tax. I am in support of our local sheriff’s department and very much in support of our children’s education; however, I cannot support the increased sales tax. There is so much waste in our current government. If the county and city can cut waste and restructure daily business maybe then the sheriff’s department can expand. Regarding the schools, perhaps they should request more on their levy so the people can claim it on their real estate taxes. or go to Springfield and demand our politicians straighten the mess they have created. What will you do if our residents shop online and stop going to local stores? Everyone loses.
In recent years, the city has granted various tax incentives to businesses. Explain whether you would support or oppose tax incentives for businesses. I do not believe in giving businesses incentives “just because.” Our taxpayers work too hard for their paycheck to have their property taxes go to successful businesses while they look outside and see their street filled with potholes. The taxpayers cannot line up at the trough to collect these dollars. The taxpayers cannot have their property tax rebated. The taxpayers cannot have their sales tax waived. Used properly, TIFs can help to drive economic development and bring good new jobs to neighborhoods that need them. As your alderman, I will make sure that we are not investing your tax dollars in businesses that would succeed without them. I believe we need to get back to the original intention of the TIF and focus Belleville’s TIF dollars on helping “blighted” neighborhood to rebuild. I support using TIF dollars for street repairs, sidewalk repairs, curb and gutter repairs.
What actions would you take to fight crime in Belleville? Explain whether you think the city can afford to hire more police officers. First, Belleville police officers do hard, hazardous work every day. They are pledged to put themselves at risk to protect our lives and our property. That’s an incredible act of public service, and we all should respect their courage and dedication. I would like to see the police department double their patrols on our streets. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, between the hours of 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. a minimum of seven officers are required. A minimum of five officers are required between 2 a.m. and 6 p.m. Currently, the Belleville Police Department has 83 sworn officers with an authorization of 85. Without a detailed manpower analysis study it is difficult to say what the optimum number of officers should be; therefore, I would request council to approve the study to make an informed decision; if, in fact, the city needs to hire more officers. As alderman, I will work to build new links with the Belleville Police Department that will help the residents help the police officers as they work to protect our community.
Why should people vote for you? I am honest, independent and a hard working person. I value the taxpayers dollar. I will not spend the tax dollars foolishly. I will educate myself regarding all city business and keep my constitutes informed. Ward 1 will have my full attention 24/7.