Shannon Burns

Issues

Introduction

During my first term, I have worked to protect DuPage County’s open space so that it remains available for the future.

Below, you will find more detail on specific issues that are critical to good management of our Forest Preserves.  These issues are generic and remain unchanged since I first ran for office in 2010.  To read about my accomplishments in these areas, please see my 1st ANNUAL REPORT.

If you would like more information on any of my views, or if you would like to discuss a particular issue about our Forest Preserves, please send me an email or call me at (630) 779-4893. I’d love to hear from you!

Political Party Affiliation has no place in land management or in natural resource restoration!

  • Forest Preserve land is already bought and paid for; we already own the land!
  • Natural resource management is a complex science.  As such, decisions about managing our land should be made by individuals who are education in land management principles, rather than by individuals whose sole qualification is political party affiliation.
  • Political party issues have no bearing in land management.  Think about it:  Traditional political party issues, such as health care, the economy, or civil rights are not related to land management.

During my first term, I have crossed party lines to work for the people of DuPage County, regardless of their political party affiliation.  I am committed to continuing to work for ALL citizens in DuPagae County during my second term.  Please call or email me if you would like to discuss my views on party politics as related to the Forest Preserve.

Summary

After attending Forest Preserve Board meetings since 2009, and after serving as YOUR Commissioner since 2012, I see three key issues facing the Forest Preserve now and into the future:

Land Management: The land we own must be protected.

Fiscal Stewardship: In order to protect our land, we must be conservative in spending your tax dollars.

Public Involvement: Public involvement is critical to effective management of Forest Preserve land.

THIS land is YOUR land!

The Forest Preserve has an annual budget of approximately $42 million dollars. Most of this money comes from your property tax dollars.

Financial support comes from other sources as well: private and governmental grants, the sale of goods and services by the Forest Preserve, and fees for permits and events. We share some expenses, through intergovernmental agreements, such as the agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation to provide the new entrance on Winfield Rd into St. James Farm.

Additional income is derived from interest earnings on savings accounts. The primary source of interest income is from money set aside to manage problems that may occur at the closed landfills on Forest Preserve property. Of course, this interest income will some day run out so it is not a good source of routine budget income.

Forest Preserve land is owned by YOU!

In the past, citizens in DuPage County voted to increase taxes so that the Forest Preserve would have money available to purchase land. As taxpayers, we have already paid for our Forest Preserves with these tax dollars: This land belongs to us, the Citizens of DuPage County. We have a right to know how our land is being managed, and we have a right to expect that our money is spent carefully.

We need open space!

For an endless list of reasons, we NEED open space! Open space helps to:

  • Maintain a healthy environmental balance.
  • Provide recreation for residents, and habitat for wildlife.
  • Reduces stress, by providing space for exercise and reflection, encouraging learning, and providing opportunities for families to play together.
  • Manage stormwater, thus saving money in flood control and helping to reduce property damage from flooding.
  • Increase property values.
  • Provide educational opportunities for schools, churches, scouting groups, and other organizations.

By dedicating 12% of its total land to the Forest Preserves, DuPage County has become a leader in making open space a priority. It is VITALLY IMPORTANT that the open space currently owned by the Forest Preserve be carefully managed to insure environmental and financial security for many years into the future.

Issue 1: Land Management

Twelve percent of DuPage County Is Forest Preserve land! By state law, once land is owned by the Forest Preserve District, it can never be sold or leased to a private entity.  The primary role of the Forest Preserve Board is to care for this land.

I support:

  • Maintenance of Forest Preserve land as a first priority of District Board and staff.
  • Adherence to industry standards for managing natural areas, such as deer culling, mitigation and protection of wetland areas and invasive species control.
  • Increased development of Volunteer Stewardship programs to assist in land management.
  • Training in Natural Resource Management for Board members, to increase understanding of the impact of Board decisions on land management.

I do not support expenditure of Forest Preserve monies for non-land related expenses, such as public relations contracts or internet software programs.  Whenever possible, the District should not provide services that are available from other sources, such as internet search programs related to natural resources.

Issue 2: Fiscal Responsibility

ALL monies at the Forest Preserve are derived from public sources. As an elected official, I pledge to remember that the money I manage, like the land I manage, belongs to everyone in DuPage County.

The Forest Preserve Board must be completely open about how money is spent, and conservative in approving expenditures. I support:

  • Managing the District’s monies based on expenses, rather than on income; I support converting District budgeting to an expense-based budget process.
  • Hiring contractors only after an open and fair bidding process.
  • Hiring workers who live in DuPage County for all District projects.
  • Ethical financial behavior, including refusing to accept campaign contributions or other favors from vendors who work for the Forest Preserve.
  • Using forest preserve income wisely, with priority given to expenses that relate to management and purchase of open space.
  • Sharing the expenses of equipment and services with other municipalities whenever possible.
  • Transparent expenditures and contracts that are available for public review.

While there are exceptions to every rule, exceptions should be made carefully and only in extraordinary circumstances.

Issue 3: Public Involvement

The Forest Preserve’s Mission clearly states that the District exists for the combined purpose of preserving the environment and for the enjoyment of the public

A consistent complaint about past Boards is a lack of response to citizens who present public comment at Board meetings. Lack of responsiveness to the public is unacceptable.

As District 6 Commissioner, I will respond to your concerns promptly. I support:

  • Informing the public of proposed projects during the planning process. It is not enough to inform the community of projects after they have been started.
  • Prompt response to emails and letters from the Community.
  • Two-way discussion of topics presented to the Board during public comment.
  • Posting of Board Meeting minutes on-line in a timely manner.
  • Conducting activities of the Forest Preserve Board and staff transparently, in full view of the public.
  • Regular, public updates about District activities for all residents, via email, public forums, social media and small group community meetings.

During my first term as YOUR Commissioner, I have worked hard to respond to community feedback and to community concerns.  If you would like to speak with me about your concern, or have feedback for me on how the District is doing, please call or email me.  I’d love to hear from you!

Shannon M. Burns

630-779-4893

shannonburns112@aol.com

  • © 2014 Citizens for Shannon Burns. 1 S. 726 Bender Lane, West Chicago, IL 60185.