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Local

County Board District 9 hopefuls talk budget

DeKALB – Both Republican candidates in the DeKalb County Board District 9 race say they want to fix the budget, but each has a different idea on how to do it.

DeKalb residents Craig Genteman and Samuel-Louis Bandy Jr. will face off Tuesday in the primary election. The winner will compete against Democrat Jim Luebke in November.

County board members have taken almost $1 million out of reserve funds each of the last three years to balance the budget. Both candidates say that’s a problem.

“If that $3 million is not there, the only solution is a tax increase,” Bandy said. “That’s the wrong way to balance a budget.”

Bandy, who served on the county board for two terms from 1986 to 1992, proposed three ideas he said he will establish if elected: balancing the budget by cutting certain programs and unnecessary donations, lowering board members’ pay from $100 to $1 a meeting, and establishing contingency funds for the Cortland landfill and Shabbona wind farms.

Genteman, a Northern Illinois University student who will earn a bachelor’s degree in political science this December, said his primary focus is to tackle the county’s property tax rate. But before that can be done, Genteman wants to hire an outside agency to review the board’s effectiveness.

“We want a completely fresh person who is completely objective to see what’s going on in the county budget,” Genteman said.

Genteman said he is currently resolving a criminal charge against him with his attorney. He was charged March 6 with driving with a suspended license and is also serving 18 months of court supervision for driving under the influence of alcohol on March 1, 2013, DeKalb County court records show.

“It was unfortunate it happened, but I’m fully cooperating with the authorities to take responsibility for my past transgression,” he said. “If elected, I would honor and respect [the position] with the utmost professionalism, as should every elected official.”

Genteman is next due in court for a plea setting April 4 for the driving while license suspended charge.

Bandy, who retired from Northern Illinois University police in 2009, said he is the better candidate because of his experience. He said when he previously served in the county board, it was during a time before spending got out of control.

Genteman, an Army veteran who served multiple tours in Iraq, criticized Bandy’s plan to enact zero-based budgeting, a system that would build a new budget from scratch rather than increase or decrease each item in line-item budgeting.

“It takes several years to implement,” Genteman said. “It’s a system that is a proven failure.”

Bandy said zero-based budgeting takes a couple of years to get used to, but it’s worth the investment.

“You’ll begin to see what you pay for,” he said. “Not everything in the budget needs to be increased.”

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