Name: Daniel J. Weidenbenner
Office seeking: St. Clair County Board Member District 19
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City of residence: Shiloh
Campaign website: none
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? Service to community has been a significant part of my life. As treasurer and trustee for the Village of Shiloh, and president for the Shiloh Valley Sanitary District, I have served for over 27 years. As a CPA tax accountant, and business consultant, I have dealt with complex financial issues for over 30 years. I believe my experience can be vital in helping the county turn around its financial situation. If people wish to pay ever-increasing sales tax to shop locally and ever higher property taxes they should vote for my opponent as those are things I cannot support. If people would rather the county work to become more fiscally responsible and thereby eliminate the need to increase taxes please vote for me.
St. Clair County’s health fund is $3.3 million in debt, according to its most recent audit. The debt has increased over the last two years. What measures would you support to reduce the debt? Various health plans have been used to reduce overall health care costs. Health savings accounts with high deductible plans have consistently helped employees be more cost-conscious regarding healthcare options. Few employers offer health benefits to part-time employees, especially when such would be categorized as a Cadillac plan under Obama Care regulations. County Board members should be required to demonstrate a minimum number of hours served in order to participate in any health insurance plan.
What is your position on the oversight of MidAmerica Airport? Would you change anything? If so, what? Given the opportunity I believe I could help reduce, and perhaps over time even eliminate, the county’s current subsidy of the airport. It is my understanding the only oversight County Board members have regarding the airport which uses so much of the county’s resources is their ability to vote on the appropriation to subsidize it. If duly elected board members can be asked, by an appointed airport committee, to leave a meeting, when the committee goes into executive session, it seems any hope of transparency is lost. I would support having a group of elected officials including a bipartisan number of County Board members as voting members, or at least with more oversight, of the airport committee.
St. Clair County board meetings last an average of 30 minutes, according to a review of meeting minutes from the last two years. Some committee meetings for the most part last less than 15 minutes. Is this enough time for county board members to conduct county business and earn a $19,419 salary? Why or why not? If the only time a County Board member spends on County issues is attending committee meetings and board meetings, I would agree they are well overpaid. However, a board member required to document working over 1000 hours, if honest in doing so, to be eligible to participate in health benefits, would be earning less than $20 an hour. The amount of time spent making oneself aware of the issues, discussing concerns of constituents, and working on recommendations for the chairman and staff, could be substantial. Perhaps candidates should be asked to account for the amount of time they spend on County issues, so voters may take it into consideration when going to the polls.
County revenue has been declining in recent years. How should revenues be increased or do services have to be cut? Why? A significant amount of revenue loss could be absorbed by reduced subsidy of the airport if it could be run more efficiently and new sources of revenue for it be realized. Other County expenditures should be subject to a cost-benefit analysis. I am certain a number of costs can be reduced or eliminated without having much if any impact on the services County residents receive.