On Feb. 21, Patricia Joan Murphy appeared before the Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board. We asked her why she’s running for Cook County commissioner in the 6th District in the March 2018 primary. Check out her response in the video below.
The Chicago Sun-Times sent the candidates seeking nominations for the Cook County Board of Commissioners a list of questions to find out their views on a range of important issues facing the county. Murphy submitted the following answers to our questionnaire:
QUESTION: The County Board enacted and then repealed a tax on sweetened beverages, then made further cuts to the budget. Can county government now claim an appropriate balance of revenue and services, or will more revenue or more cost-cutting be necessary? Please be specific as to where new revenue might come from, or where further cuts could be made.
ANSWER: I fought for the repeal of the sweetened beverage tax and I believe this is not enough to sustain the county budget and vital services the county provides. I believe the County needs to diligently focus on ways to create new revenue streams that do not come on the backs of our taxpayers. The tax increases imposed over the last several years have repelled many businesses and consumers to flee to neighboring more tax friendly counties. In addition, many of our residents are moving out of the county as well. We need to rework the budget, create new revenue streams and re-brand the county and make it a desirable place to live and do business.
Patricia Joan Murphy
Political/civic background: Have not previously held Public Office
Occupation: Small Business Owner/Property Manager
Education: Graduate of Boston University, Communications Degree in Marketing Management
Campaign website: murphyforcook.com
QUESTION: If the Affordable Care Act is eliminated or curtailed, what would you propose doing to keep the county’s Health and Hospitals System on sound financial footing?
ANSWER: The action of congress to remove or repeal the Affordable Care Act has negative impact on millions of residents in Cook County and in Illinois. As a Cook County Commissioner I believe it will be my duty to work with all stakeholders and state legislators to create a plan and remedies to support those affected with increased plan rates or reduced benefits, due to this act of congress. We are all in this together, and must find the way to improve and resolve together.
QUESTION: What county functions or services would you support privatizing, if any, to reduce costs?
ANSWER: I believe the privatization of Technology might be a benefit to supporting the County’s infrastructure and also our Department of Homeland Security. This would give the county access to the most cutting edge technical resources which are vital to our climate. To develop and provide this critical level of technology in-house would be not be cost effective.
QUESTION: The state of Illinois is behind on paying money it owes to Cook County. What’s to be done about that?
ANSWER: Although this is not a function of a Commissioner on the Cook County Board, I do firmly believe we need to do all that we can administratively at the County Board level to ensure collection (and preferably more timely collection) of these funds. As a Commissioner I would try to make certain that the process eliminates any obstacles and and work to develope better relations internally at the county and with the states administrative body to coordinate these pass through payments.
QUESTION: What is your position on tax-increment financing districts? Are they a valuable development tool? Are they underutilized? Is the process sufficiently transparent? Should there be more community input? Should the definition of a “blighted” area be revised?
ANSWER: I believe in TIF’s and that they are an essential tool for redevelopment. Once elected, I will look into the process of transparency of the TIF program as I do not have enough information to comment on the process at this time; however I do believe the need for transparency. I believe that community input is valuable, but I also think their input would be more relevant if the county and stakeholders would invest more in the education to the community regarding what a TIF is, how it works and what impact the development brings to the community. The definition of blighted may need to be reevaluated, as with time an area once blighted will hopefully becoming thriving due to having this assistance.
QUESTION: Recently, there have been calls to freeze local property taxes. What’s your view on the matter?
ANSWER: I believe we need to address the following before considering any property tax increases. The county budget needs to be reviewed along with cash flow analysis at the minimum on a quarterly basis; the county needs to create new revenue streams not derived from additional taxes and fees; and most importantly as it relates to property taxes we need to address the claims of unfair assessments and equalizers being used in the Assessor’s Office; and lastly perhaps we need to adopt new state laws to address elected officials that have an economic interest and benefit as a result of these property appeals are not allowed to vote or weigh in on these issues as it is a direct conflict of interest that results in significant revenue losses to the county.
QUESTION: Do you support or oppose efforts to merge unincorporated pockets of the county into adjoining municipalities? If so, how would you make that happen?
ANSWER: I am opposed to efforts to force the merge of unincorporated pockets of the county into adjoining municipalities. Forced annexation is not the appropriate method. These are individuals who chose to live in these areas for specific reasons, knowing they would not have access to the same benefits of those residing in an incorporated municipality, while paying significantly less in property taxes. The county has done an admirable job of providing for these communities. If by a referendum, the majority of both parties agree to merge and the financial plan to do so, I would then support.
QUESTION: What is your plan to encourage economic development in the county?
ANSWER: This is an area I most passionate to become involved in. I have many creative ideas of how to give new life to the economic growth and development in the 6th district and to how sustain and improve our existing industry and commerce.
For example, I will be a consistent supporter of the 6b Tax Incentive for our industrial and commercial businesses especially within the suburban 6th District and in the Chicago Southland where numerous industrial parks exist and 6b applications are regularly submitted. The Class 6b classification is designed to encourage industrial development throughout Cook County by offering a real estate incentive for the development of new industrial facilities, the rehabilitation of existing industrial structures, and the industrial reutilization of abandoned buildings. The goal of Class 6b is to attract new industry, stimulate expansion and retention of existing industry and increase employment opportunities. Under the incentive provided by Class 6b, qualifying industrial real estate would be eligible for a reduced assessment from the date that new construction or substantial rehabilitation is completed and initially assessed or, in the case of abandoned property from the date of substantial re-occupancy.
In addition I will take advantage of promoting the Cook County Retail Economic Development Incentive program which is the program by which Cook County encourages establishment or maintenance of retail businesses and jobs in Cook County. The purpose of this ordinance is to authorize Cook County to work with Illinois municipal corporations located in Cook County to provide needed economic stimulus to encourage establishment or maintenance of retail businesses and jobs in Cook County. The three main objectives are: 1) Provide incentives to encourage the establishment or maintenance of retail businesses and jobs in Cook County; 2) Provide enhanced revenues for all the people of Cook County; and 3) Provide cooperation with all municipal corporations located in Cook County.
QUESTION: An additional $40 million per year is needed to fund the Forest Preserve District’s Next Century Conservation Plan. Where can the county find the money?
ANSWER: One way the CCFPD could generate revenue would be to either self-develop or manage or lease additional recreational programs on forest preserve property. For example structures to hold in-door/outdoor soccer tournaments, golf, lacrosse and baseball facilities, in addition to rock climbing walls etc. similar to Bemis Woods. Our Cook County families have children in various travel club sports programs and due to lack of the existing facilities here, travel to other counties and states where they spend money outside of Cook County on food and sometimes lodging. We could be hosting these events here in the county and capitalize on visitors traveling to us and spending their money in our county.
QUESTION: Traditionally, the Forest Preserve District has not charged for parking in the preserves, but it is considering doing so at Swallow Cliff Woods. Do you support that?
ANSWER: No, I do not believe any one or two Preserves should be targeted with charging for parking. The taxes paid by our Cook County residents must include provision of free parking at all of the Cook County preserves and not targeting a select preserve.
QUESTION: Should the Forest Preserve District have its own board, independent of the County Board? Please explain.
ANSWER: No. An additional layer of bureaucracy is not cost effective option, for what might be a minimal conflict of interest. The County Board and the CCFPD have together made significant strides and improvements to protect and enhance land restoration, conservation and recreation programs in the CCFPD.
QUESTION: Is Cook County treated fairly by the state? If not, how so?
ANSWER: No, Cook County is not treated fairly by the State of Illinois. The state’s cash flow has the inability to pay the county a significant amount of funds that we are owed and are in need of.
QUESTION: Do you support another effort in the Legislature to reform the county’s pension system?
ANSWER: No, county employees are entitled to receive the benefits they were promised, in particular as they were unable to participate in government pension and did not have FICA withholdings saved on their behalf.
QUESTION: Please name any relatives who hold a county job. What’s your general view on elected officials hiring relatives?
ANSWER: I have a sister in law, Stephanie Murphy currently holding a county job. Her employment with the county began several years prior to becoming a member of my family. In general, I oppose nepotism in the workplace.