Name: Frank “F.X.” Heiligenstein
Office Seeking: St. Clair County Board District 21
Party: Democratic (Currently I am the longest serving official in Illinois – 50 years)
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City of Residence: Freeburg, IL
Campaign website: N/A
Why are you running and why should people vote for you? I enjoy working with my constituents because I feel that I can help them negotiate County government. We started a taxpayer’s organization in 1978 to tackle the County multiplier. We were successful in the Mt. Vernon Appellate Court. I enjoy writing informative articles in the Freeburg Tribune. My office with the help of the township and local accountants process several hundred tax freeze forms, etc. every year.
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? Access T.I.F. funds that should go to the County. Currently millions are going into municipal slush funds to finance tavern canopies, etc.
What is your position on the oversight of MidAmerica Airport? Would you change anything? If so, what? The County needs a qualified Airport Board of Directors, not the Public Building Commission that would recommend to the County Board any major expenditure for the Board’s approval. We need a long range plan that will produce a profit in the near future. If we did not have all of these T.I.F. districts created by some of our Board members when they were City Council members, we wouldn’t have to transfer general fund cash to support the MidAmerica Airport Mission. However, if MidAmerica supports the Scott AFB military mission, is it worth the funds to keep Scott operating for the subsidy to keep it open and the thousands of good jobs we have to look at the total picture?
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? Over the last 42 years I’ve been on the Board, the Board members do not speak out or question agenda items. Only 3 or 4 board members speak out sometimes on the issues, if that. It is difficult to address the issues when 12 board members do not open their agendas until the meeting starts. They do not say anything in the committee meetings. We only need about 21 board members.
County revenue has been declining in recent years. How should revenues be increased or do services have to be cut? Why? The county needs to take legal action to get some of the $50 million in T.I.F. funds from the municipalities to cover the county’s shortcomings. That would more than cover the Health Department’s shortage and some of the Airport shortages. User fees are increasing to cover some budget deficits.
Also, the county needs for the taxpayers “below the hill” to pay their taxes. Every year we have millions of unpaid taxes and there are over 8,000 delinquent properties that the county has taken title to currently to sell at auction.
Also, we have tons of local schools losing over $28 million alone.