Name: James E. Saffel Sr.
Immediate family members: Eight children
Office seeking: Mayor
Occupation: Businessman, developer
Previous and current elected offices and terms served: None
Why are you running? I am running for the future of our children, we need to reform TIFs in an attempt to correct a system that began with good intent, but now plays to the powerful developers in an abusive manner. This system now inflicts damage on the average homeowner by unfairly increasing their home values and their tax burden. We need to strengthen the American dream for the young starting out, the elderly living in quiet and the middle aged wanting to provide a safe and happy home for their family. We need to stop borrowing and spending tomorrow’s money today, stop putting more debt on the backs of our children. We need to start taking care of our cities, our state and our country first.
What is the most important issue facing Mascoutah? How would you approach it? The city of Mascoutah has lost its sense of direction and its role as a city. Its lack of transparency with the citizens, its abuse of using TlFs for fleecing of citizens property taxes, without consenting with them. The only members on the TIF-Joint Review Board are members of existing tax bodies that are recipients of some of the TIF taxes taken. And they are: Georgia Costello, Mark Kern, Gerald Daugherty, Nancy Larson, Debra Moil and Craig Fiegel not one citizen from any TIF zone. Today we should be concerned about the false sense of prosperity, that TIFs give us. With the inflated assessments they have created,Homeowners are paying more in taxes and insurance while living under the delusion that their bloated home EAV (assessments) have brought them prosperity. While our infrastructure is crumbling and the ability to sustain the American Dream is being eroded.
If you were writing a job description for the position you’re seeking, what would it say? Mayor: integrity, with transparency, no more or any less, knowing that the city and its citizens come first, along with its infrastructure.
How would you keep costs down or reduce costs in your municipality? The city’s infrastructure is crumbling; surface water protection district needs help for the pig mud river running under the downtown, it’s crumbling, as are the streets and sidewalks. What’s the city’s debt ratio? These need to be addressed today. But because of the lack of transparency on where the TIF money has gone, we have no information as to how much money has been borrowed against the TIFs property, or by grants, general tax revenue, utility taxes, motor fuel tax and general revenue bonds. The city is making payments to seven different banks. The only way I can find out is to join the club; run for mayor.
In St. Clair County, there will be votes on two sales tax referendums. One would benefit school facility costs, one would benefit public safety. Do you support either or both of the referendums? Why or why not? I would make a point to get involved with all the taxing bodies that are related to our community, we should all work together for a common goal, a better community and more bang for the buck.
Why should people vote for you? For change, stop the·fleecing of our taxes and do what a city is supposed to do, take care of the city and its citizens first. Mascoutah now has 3 TIFs, and if you look at TIF 1 and TIF 2B zones they look today just like they did 16 years ago, the only big change is that property taxes are three times higher.