Another awesome Mayor - well maybe...

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I had posted April 11th, 2009 about Hazel McCallion, Mayor of Mississauga, Ontario for 31 years. Mississauga is the sixth largest city in Canada. It has zero debt and $700 Million cash reserves. How did she do it? Low taxes and attracting businesses to her city. Meet Mayor Chester Stranczek of Crestwood, Illinois. From The Heartland Institute:
Mayor Returns $48 Million to Taxpayers, Then Retires
Every year, folks in Crestwood, Illinois, a suburb southwest of Chicago, open their mail to find a check paying for half their property taxes.

Who would do such an amazing, generous thing? The Village of Crestwood itself.

Crestwood's gift doesn't cover just the municipal property tax bill; it picks up half the tab for all government bodies that levy a property tax in the village, from schools to Cook County.

This practically unheard-of largesse is courtesy of Crestwood Mayor Chester Stranczek and his trustees, who have engineered such an efficient village government for the nearly 12,000 residents that they literally can pass out money to ease the property tax burden.

'Crazy' Promise Made
When he first became mayor 39 years ago, Stranczek promised property owners that some day the village would pay their taxes.

"They told me I was crazy," Stranczek said, but undeterred he began running the village like a business--a very lean business.

Stranczek, who retires this fall, explains it is done through a combination of privatization of village services, a friendly business climate, and fiscal restraint, all while providing a high degree of personal service.

Long before privatization became a familiar word, Crestwood was actively seeking more efficient and less costly contract providers for just about every municipal service.

Most Services Privatized
"We have only 21 full-time employees," Stranczek said, a remarkably small number for the long list of municipal services Crestwood provides.

"Should I give you the list? You'd be amazed," Stranczek said as he starts ticking them off: garbage removal, sidewalk replacement, street maintenance, water maintenance, sewer repairs, park maintenance and grass cutting, water meter reading and billing, ambulance service, engineering, bus service anywhere in the village for $1.10 a ride, a senior citizen center, youth services. And so on.

There are three full-time police officers and an all-volunteer fire department (whose members are paid for each call). Go down the employee roster, and you'll find one assistant services director, a half-dozen public works employees, a couple of senior service providers, and you're almost at the end of the list.

Community service officers, not police officers, patrol the two shopping centers, and crime is virtually nonexistent.
Treat the businesses well and they will return the favor, employ local citizens, pay taxes, etc... Although there is one fly in the ointment. From a recent Chicago Tribune article:
Poison in the well
Crestwood officials cut corners and supplied residents with tainted water for 2 decades

Like every town across the nation, south suburban Crestwood tucks a notice into utility bills each summer reassuring residents their drinking water is safe. Village leaders also trumpet the claim in their monthly newsletter, while boasting they offer the cheapest water rates in Cook County.

But those pronouncements hide a troubling reality: For more than two decades, the 11,000 or so residents in this working-class community unknowingly drank tap water contaminated with toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems, a Tribune investigation found.

As village officials were building a national reputation for pinching pennies, and sending out fliers proclaiming Crestwood water was "Good to taste but not to waste!," state and village records obtained by the newspaper show they secretly were drawing water from a contaminated well, apparently to save money.
No word as to the concentration of the chemicals. Nasty stuff (dry cleaning effluent) but only in large doses. I go back to Paracelsus' maxim: The Dose makes The Poison (or more accurately: "All things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous.") We can now measure things in vanishingly small percentages. Something that is a few minutes with a $3,000 instrument used to take ten days in a well equipped analytical laboratory. Just because we can find so many parts per billion of "Chemical XYZZY" doesn't mean that that dose is toxic. As an example. With people decrying the "huge amount" of CO2 in our atmosphere. Take a football stadium filled with 10,000 people. If that was our atmosphere, four people would be CO2.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 22, 2009 9:11 PM.

Well, if the Earth warms up, that will mean more forest fires. Right? was the previous entry in this blog.

My next couple of days reading - Letter to Representatives Ed Markey and Joe Barton is the next entry in this blog.

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