Madison County Treasurer Kurt Prenzler, Republican, announced Friday that he will run for County Board Chairman in 2016 on a platform that includes tax cuts.
The current occupant of the office is Alan Dunstan, Democrat, who has served as Chairman since 2002.
In a press release announcing his intention to run, Prenzler said he made his decision to run because he is “tired of machine politics, its cover ups, spending and taxes.”
“Nothing seems to change when it comes to party politics,” he stated. “The county board doesn’t operate as a deliberative body. We need to put the interest of taxpayers over party.”
Prenzler stated in his release that in 2011 county officials pushed for a 1 percent sales tax, “which would have increased taxes by $20 million annually and allowed taxing districts to issue $300 million in debt. Voters rejected the idea 80.6 to 19.4 percent.”
In 2013, the majority of the County Board passed a backdoor referendum to issue $18.8 million in bonds to remodel the jail. Citizens collected 23,000 signatures to force the issue onto the March 2014 ballot, which the public rejected by 2 to 1.
Prenzler stated that when he first ran for office in 2006 against former treasurer Fred Bathon, he brought to the public’s attention the unethical tax sales that were being conducted under Bathon’s watch, “yet county officials did nothing.”
In 2010, Prenzler ran against Bathon’s successor Frank Miles and won.
Following a federal investigation, Bathon pleaded guilty in February 2013 to rigging tax sales. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison, but one year was shaved from his sentence and he was released from prison in June.
As for his accomplishments, Prenzler states that he has automated the tax sales, cut his budget by 30 percent, saving approximately $2 million and re-invested money in accordance with Illinois law into local banks,and tripled investments from $30 to 90 million.
Prenzler said that besides a reduction in spending and taxes or exposing cover ups, a main objective if elected would be to have a more deliberative county board.
“Everyone on the board should have a voice,” he said. “No one should feel threatened when they ask questions or wish to be a part of the process.”
Part of Prenzler’s plan, he stated, is to lower the burden on taxpayers by reducing the county’s property tax levy10 percent without cutting services, upkeep or workers’ jobs.
“With massive millions in county reserves I would like to stop the padding of the annual budget and put together one that reflects reality,” he stated. “As a CPA, I know that’s possible.”
Dunstan was appointed to office in 2002 and won his first election as Chairman in 2004.
In the last election in 2012, he defeated Republican challenger Chris Slusser by a margin of 55 to 45 percent.