Craig Roman, DeKalb County Council 2022 Primary Election Questionnaire – Shaw Local
Full Name: Craig Romain
What office are you looking for? County Council District 10
What offices, if any, have you already held? Currently elected to County Council for District 6, which after redistricting I reside in District 10
Occupation: Funeral Director and Licensed Embalmer
Education: A degree in mortuary sciences
The DeKalb County Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, a public facility owned by the DeKalb County government, is in financial difficulty, according to county officials. The budgetary constraints revealed in 2021 have made it difficult for the center to maintain its financial independence. Last year, the county council disbanded the center’s board and hired a consultant to help determine the facility’s future: whether to sell it (current county leaders say that is not the preference) or how to maintain financial independence. If elected, what would you like to see become the county retirement home?
We need the building to be viable for the community, if it reduces the size of the nursing home and uses the other as a memory care unit or something that would allow both areas to thrive. This would allow for a name change that could remove any negative impact the installation might have. A manager who has local roots and a sense of community would also be something I’m interested in seeing.
Since the building is attached to the health department, I see many problems trying to sell it. If we lease the facility, I don’t think we’ll see the financial benefits we need.
How would you approach the financial constraints of the nursing home as a member of the county council?
There are options to reduce the size of the nursing home and adding a memory care unit or something that could support the building on its own would be something I would like to learn more about.
What are the three biggest challenges facing DeKalb County Council?
The county’s retirement home, solar development and water infrastructure
Please provide specific ideas on how you would address these issues if elected, or any solutions you would suggest?
I proposed a solar ordinance which was passed by the board to come back to committee to be amended and I have since voted against it. On planning and zoning, we are reviewing our solar ordinance to see if there are any areas we need to strengthen from the time we wrote it.
The nursing home is all about numbers, we need 175 full beds, we have 120 full beds (it changes every day). If we could increase bed utilization or reduce bed size and add a necessary service to compensate for the shortage of negative revenue.
Along with the water infrastructure, we are currently giving $10,000 to communities across the county to help cover the costs.
What makes you specifically qualified to run for DeKalb County Council? What would you bring to the table, and how would it benefit the board? Please provide specific examples.
I was elected to the board of directors, I am currently the chairman of the forest reserve committee and I sit on the executive committee and I sit on planning and zoning
In 2021, DeKalb County Council voted for several sizable solar power farms. The plans, which were approved during a long debate, drew a significant amount of community comment, some negative, some positive, some related to county council regulations for future farms. What is your position on the subject of solar energy and what role do you think the county council should play in this regard?
I am in favor of property rights. I still struggle to see how a farm could build a silo or an elevator 50 feet from a property line but a 12′ solar panel is a problem.
The greater the setback, the smaller the size of usable property for the landowner. Placing berms and vegetation now means adding a permanent installation for a temporary use element.
DeKalb County Council’s budget passed for fiscal year 2022 at $96 million. Would you recommend changing it or making cuts? If yes, where? Why or why not?
I think we do a good job of providing services for the taxes collected. It will be interesting to see what the new construction of Amazon, Meta, solar farms and other new construction will add to the tax rolls and see if we need additional services or if we can reduce taxes for residents.
Inflation across the country has had a huge impact on the price of gas, food and supplies. Recent rent hikes are also affecting local communities, forcing the relocation of those dependent on subsidized housing in DeKalb County, according to a recent report from the Daily Chronicle and the DeKalb County Housing Authority, which is an arm of county government. . What can DeKalb County Council do to ease day-to-day expenses and reduce the tax burden for local residents?
Well, our biggest employer is NIU, they don’t pay property tax. We must therefore compensate for this with new economic growth. We realize that now, so we have to see what happens and where those funds are needed.
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, DeKalb County’s population has dropped by approximately 4,000 people over the past decade, mostly concentrated in the DeKalb area. Population size can have a direct impact on sources of revenue for municipal budgets, such as local sales tax, fuel consumption and economic development. How would you rank economic development as a priority in your campaign and what would you do, if elected, to ensure DeKalb County moves forward in the next decade?
Economic development, i.e. building new homes, has been sparse since 2008, I think 20 homes were built, but a lot of multi-tenancy properties went up at the same time. The recent addition of large economic enterprises will help economic development, so hopefully our better days are ahead of us.
Assess the actions of the DeKalb County Health Department to combat COVID-19? What changes, if any, need to be made in relation to the pandemic?
Well, I have to commend the Ministry of Health for all they did to make those of us want to be vaccinated or vaccinated. I think directing large vaccination sites to their mobile vaccination vehicle helps bring vaccines to those who want them.
How would you encourage economic and job growth in DeKalb County?
Have good relationships within communities in the county, work with them and economic development to help bring needed manufacturing positions to the county. We are a service-based economy, services are not taxed.
Do you think there is a local crime problem? If so, what should be done about it?
Every location has a local crime problem. It could mean that one person is attracting the wrong crowd. Increase population increase percentage.
What local road and bridge projects should be prioritized in the county?
The roads we drive the most get the most criticism. I drive every day on South Malta Road. It’s a washboard like a street. The county has nothing to do with this road, it is covered by the town of Dekalb and the township. So, as a county, we help cities and townships by letting them track our purchases, which lowers their costs.
Are you in favor of lowering local property taxes? If so, how would the county make up the difference?
Yes, but we need economic development to offset taxes. We’ll see when those two intersect, then we can consider lowering taxes.
Do you support stronger county government ethics laws? What measures do you support?
We must ensure that our elected representatives are there to serve the people, not their own interests. If strong ethics laws help combat this, I would support them.
What do you think of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act?
As a member who obtained my information, I understand that we are representatives of the community and I was happy to provide the information.
Please indicate your plan for maintaining open government.
As part of my Facebook group, I post the link to the meeting agendas along with a photo of the weekly schedule. I’m all for keeping residents informed and keeping transparency transparent.
What would you do as a county government member to boost local businesses?
I’m all for strengthening our local business, I don’t think there was a request from a resident that I voted no to in P&Z
Should government employees and officials be allowed to sign non-disclosure agreements with private companies?
If this is private information, i.e. if a member has or is looking to add a solar installation, I expect them to withhold any votes that would benefit them.
Would you lobby for or against allowing government officials and employees to sign non-disclosure agreements with private companies?
It would be on a case-by-case basis. How it would or could affect the representative or themselves. I had no problem with the economic interest form.