Steve Morley: We Need to Engage County Help in Dealing with ComEd to Hold It Accountable
Morley faces newcomer Rachel Kern in the 6th Ward race.
- 6th Ward candidate: Steve Morley (Incumbent)
- Web site: stevemorley.net
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Family: married to Nancy Morley for 16 years; son, Reed, 13; daughters Jeanette, 11, and Anna, 10
- Education: York High School, 1986, bachelor of arts in economics, University of Iowa, 1991
- Occupation: president, Marketing Resources Inc., Elmhurst
- Previous elected offices: 6th Ward alderman 2007 - present
- Applicable experience: chairman, Development Planning and Zoning Committee (2009 – Present); member, Elmhurst Economic Development Commission (2010 – Present); member, Finance, Council Affairs, and Administrative Services Committee (2007–09); member, Retail Grant Committee (2007-09)
What is the primary reason you are running for this office?
I was born and raised in town and my wife and I have chosen to raise our family here. I think Elmhurst is a great place to live and I want to continue to give back to the community that has meant so much to me.
What will be your priority if elected?
I will continue to work hard for the citizens of Elmhurst. My priorities will be to continue to promote fiscal responsibility and identify targeted budget cuts while maintaining superior city services. I will also work hard to address the immediate and long term flooding issues facing the residents of the 6th Ward and the citizens of Elmhurst.
What sets you apart from the other candidates?
I am a home owner and taxpayer in Elmhurst. My children attend school in District 205 (Jefferson Grade School and Bryan Junior High). I am the president of an Elmhurst-based marketing corporation and have worked in the business world for over 20 years. I believe this exposure and experience provides me with a broad base of knowledge which benefits me in my duties as an alderman.
How long have you lived in Elmhurst?
What's your favorite thing about Elmhurst?
My favorite thing about Elmhurst is the people. Wherever you are in town you can always count on seeing a friendly face and, if needed, find a helping hand.
What is the biggest problem in Elmhurst?
Elmhurst faces many challenges. Some of our biggest issues are revenue, flooding and the need to improve our power supply infrastructure (ComEd).
Are there any challenges or problems in your ward? If so, what needs to be done?
The biggest challenges facing the 6th Ward are flooding (storm water and sewer infrastructure) and the need for a safe, reliable, uninterrupted power supply. We as a city are currently engaged in a comprehensive review of our stormwater and sewer infrastructure. Our next steps will be to complete the study and then prioritize and implement the identified solutions. Regarding ComEd, we need to hold ComEd accountable to their stated goal “... to consistently deliver electric service you can depend on.” They are failing in their current efforts. We need to engage our friends at the county and state level to help in our efforts.
With the retirement of Tom Borchert, what do you think are the most important attributes for a new city manager?
We need a city manager that has experience and has shown that he/she can manage a budget during difficult economic times. We need a city manager that has experience promoting new growth and redevelopment in a mature town such as Elmhurst. Finally, we need a city manager that will look for creative ways reduce expenditures without a compromise in city services.
Do you think the city is spending taxpayer money in the most efficient and effective way? What, if anything, would you change with regard to budgeting and spending?
I think City Council and city staff do a very good job managing the city’s finances, however there is always room for improvement. One ongoing issue we face is that our current property tax levy process calls for the City Council to vote on our yearly tax levy six months prior to voting on our budget. I co-authored a referral that is currently before the Finance Committee which calls for this six month gap to be eliminated. Discussions regarding the tax levy and our city budget should coincide.
We’ve heard residents of all ages, but especially seniors, say that it’s getting too expensive to live in Elmhurst. What can be done to make Elmhurst more affordable for all residents? Do you think the city will need to raise taxes again in the near future?
The down turn in our economy has affected all residents, including our seniors. One way we can help seniors and residents alike is to make sure everyone is aware of some of the existing programs the city offers. Seniors qualify for a reduced fee for their vehicle stickers and also reduced cab fare ($1.40 for a one way trip anywhere in town). For individuals and families that qualify, we have a utility tax rebate program for electric, telephone and gas. We also have a property tax rebate program. The need to increase taxes is directly correlated to our revenue. For the first time in years, Elmhurst has shown a growth in recent sales tax revenue. If this trend continues, we could avoid a property tax increase in the near future.
Do you agree with other aldermen who are proposing several new TIF districts in town? Why or why not?
When appropriate and when used properly TIFs can be a powerful and vital part of a city’s redevelopment and growth plan. I will consider all proposals that would help Elmhurst redevelop obsolete properties, however TIFs are not a magic bullet and only work in certain situations. Each TIF proposal will have to be evaluated on a case by case basis.
What is working and not working in terms of economic development in Elmhurst? What, specifically, would you do to encourage businesses to come here?
I believe our retail grant program has been successful in keeping our downtown retail occupancy rate high during these difficult times. When compared to our neighboring towns, our downtown is vibrant and has become a destination for visitors to bring in outside dollars to Elmhurst. One challenge we have faced is the increased demand from our current business owners who are asking for help in promoting their businesses. As a result we recently increased the Elmhurst Economic Development Commission from 9 to 14 members. I will continue to promote Elmhurst as a business-friendly community.
Spring rains are right around the corner, and a flooding mitigation plan could take years to implement. In the short term, do you think the city is doing everything it can to assists residents who experienced the bulk of the flooding problems last year? Will you be nervous when the rains start?
As a current alderman in Elmhurst, I am always concerned when our city is faced with severe weather. As a home owner whose home flooded twice last summer, I am sensitive to the concerns of my fellow citizens as it relates to flooding issues. My fellow aldermen and city staff have been working on this issue since the storms of last summer. We recently hired an engineering firm to perform a comprehensive study of our sewer and water systems.
Nearly a dozen water mains broke within a one-week period this winter and, separately, failing infrastructure is listed as one of the reasons for flooding in Elmhurst. What needs to be done with infrastructure and how is the city going to pay for it?
Every year we dedicate a portion of our capital budget to maintaining and replacing parts of our aging infrastructure (streets, sewer, storm water, etc.) We need to continue to fund these projects on a yearly basis so that we don’t fall behind. When faced with large capital projects, we should seek state and federal dollars to help defray these costs as much as possible.
Do you think city officials and aldermen have a good relationship with citizens of Elmhurst with regard to trust and transparency? Is there anything you would do to improve that?
I do think city staff and my fellow aldermen have a good relationship with the citizens of Elmhurst as it pertains to trust and transparency. Elmhurst has a very engaged population. I always encourage residents to attend our council and committee meetings. Our meetings are open to the public and held four times a month. Meeting times and agendas are posted online. In addition to being televised, our council meetings are available on demand via the city Web site.