SHABBONA – Among the five candidates for the Shabbona Village Board, there is at least one who believes the village is on the verge of a renaissance.
Current village trustees Alfred Aspengren, Pat McCormick and Susan Cox are seeking re-election to the board, while Jamie Deutsch and Frank Ottengheime are hoping that the voters let them get a seat at the table. The five are competing for three spots that have a four-year term.
Another trustee, Ada Gallagher, is running unopposed for a two-year term.
Aspengren said the fate of the village lies in its ability to connect with nearby Shabbona State Park.
He described the park and its lake as being an undiscovered asset in DeKalb County, and he wants the place a destination for urban residents.
“Our problem now is that young people go to excellent schools and leave town,” Aspengren said. “They leave town because there are no jobs here.”
The Village Board is exploring creating a bicycle/walk path that would connect it with the park.
Neither Aspengren nor Cox said they would support using village money to build the path.
“I don’t see how the village could ever afford something like that,” Cox said.
Village President Claudia Hicks, who is not up for re-election, said money is the big issue facing Shabbona. Hicks described herself as being a conservative in terms of spending.
“I don’t believe in doing things we can’t afford, and not being able to afford them later,” Hicks said.
Both Aspengren and Cox said they are open to creating a tax increment financing district in Shabbona.
This special tax mechanism limits the property taxes municipalities and other local governments receive and deposits them into a special account.
Property taxes still can rise, but the increment – or how much the property value has grown since the district was created – is used for private and sometimes public development in the district.
Aspengren said tax increment financing would help businesses start up in the area. Cox said she would be in favor of it so as long as it would not be a financial burden for Shabbona.
What the Village Board accomplishes will be largely determined by its financial state, Hicks said.
“Money is the big issue right now,” Hicks said. “Everybody’s facing the same thing. The lack of.”
Efforts to contact McCormick, Deutsch and Ottengheime were not successful.