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Oswego Election 2015: Tony Giles, Candidate for Village President

Mar 15, 2015 07:43PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Name: J. Anthony “Tony” Giles

Website: I can be found on Facebook “Tony Giles” and email: giles4oswego@yahoo.com

Employment: Teacher in Oswego School District 308

Family: My wife Kathy and I have been married for 20 years. We have 3 girls and 1 boy.

Education: Master's degree from Northern Illinois University in 2007, Master's degree from DePaul University in 2002

Previously elected office:  Elected to Oswego Village Board in 2007 and re-elected in 2011

Relevant community service: I have been a volunteer with either the Oswegoland Park District or Oswego Baseball and Softball Association since 2007. I have also coached high school and college football for 14 years.

What makes you qualified to be Village President?

  • I have effectively and responsibly represented the Village of Oswego as a Trustee for the past 8 years. During those 8 years I have:
  • NEVER voted in favor of a tax or fee increase.
  • Voted FOR numerous business developments WITHOUT incentives or giveaways to developers. 
  • Prevented a 70% water rate increase and turned an almost bankrupt water fund into a healthy fund WITHOUT tax or fee increases. This fund can now be used to complete necessary projects for years to come.
  • Supported a new garbage contract with lower rates and lower yard waste sticker cost.
  • Supported the Oswego Senior Center, our recycling program, our downtown redevelopment, and our community events and festivals
  • Preserved open, green space
  • Improved community/school/business partnerships

I showed foresight and leadership by advocating against giving away Oswego tax dollars to a downtown TIF development.  Now, properties in downtown Oswego are being sold and downtown land is desirable. These properties will bring in new tax dollars we would never have seen if we had agreed to a downtown TIF district.

All of this was accomplished with a balanced budget and I have not asked residents for an increase in taxes or fees. I made difficult decisions when it was necessary to make cuts, but I have also been able to find money in the budget to complete all our essential projects and tasks.  

In 2014 alone, 52 new businesses opened in Oswego.  We are on the right path and we need to keep going.

What do you believe is the role of the Village President?

The role of the Village President is to lead the village board and to oversee and supervise all executive officers and employees of the village. The Village President must set a course to achieve responsible development in the village and ensure that the Village Board and staff members operate within a balanced budget. 

Commercial and residential developments can be easy to achieve. I don’t want just more development for Oswego; I want responsible development. We need developments that enhance our lifestyle, safety, and comfort. Development for the sake of growth is reckless, careless, and takes the easy way out. It is a short term fix to a larger issue. As your Village President, I will make sure we have responsible growth that will benefit the residents of Oswego. I believe that it’s not just more growth, but better growth.

If you are elected, what will be the No. 1 priority for the next Village Board?

To complete the resurfacing of our roads and improve village services without raising taxes. The Village Board should spend taxpayers’ money in the same way they would carefully spend their personal money. Just as families in Oswego have to live within their budget, our Village Board must operate within a balanced budget. I have never voted for a tax increase and I will not raise your taxes to pay for roads.  Instead, I have carefully scrutinized the budget along with our village resources. The difficult work of finding surpluses and using that money toward fiscally responsible spending is my top priority. I have done the research and I have found the $2 million dollars needed to repair the roads.  We can do this WITHOUT raising taxes.

Here is my plan for 2015:

  • Use the $735,000 the village normally uses for roads from the Motor Fuel Tax  
  • Currently we have $2.1 million surplus in the General Fund that we can use for roads. We only need to use about 60% of this to meet the amount needed for roads in 2015.

Here is my plan for 2016 and beyond:

  • Use the $425,000 tax rebate from Meijer that expired in December 2014. Put this into a sinking fund that can only be used for roads.
  • Use $735,000 the village normally uses for roads from the Motor Fuel Tax.
  • Since 2011 our revenues have exceeded expenditures by an average of $1.2 million. Use this yearly surplus for our roads.

My plan will give Oswego enough money to complete the roads program far into the future, and provide a buffer if the yearly revenue is less than expected (in case of a large economic down turn), or if we need more roads, if there were to be a sharp increase in the cost of roads. ALL of this can be done with NO tax increase.

What is your vision for the old Alexander Lumber Co. lot and the parcel of land that includes the old Village Hall and the former Oswego Chamber office?

My vision is to develop these parcels of land, and there is current interest in the Alexander Lumber site. There are multiple ways both parcel could be developed. The Alexander site could be a community area for outdoor music, a multi-purpose pad for summer events, and for ice-skating in the winter.  It could be a restaurant. It could be developed as a multi-level unit with retail shops on the first floor and residential units on the upper levels. It depends on who develops the land and the return they want on their investment.

The old Village Hall and former Oswego Chamber offices are owned by the Village. They could be sold individually to a developer, or a larger deal could be negotiated with the surrounding businesses to include multiple property sites for a much larger development. This could help increase the foot traffic in downtown Oswego while still keeping our small town feel.

What is your long-term vision for Main Street?

I want Main Street to be a walkable downtown destination, with a variety of shops and restaurants for people to visit throughout all hours of the day. I want Main Street to be the center of Oswego, a place for our families to gather and a place to visitors to enjoy.

How can Oswego maintain the hometown feel while at same time encouraging development?

There is a difference between development and responsible development. We should not approve any and all housing developments regardless of size and compatibility in the name of growth. I want Oswego to grow through responsible development. Commercial and residential development should fit into our concept plan, but must be a good fit for Oswego. We must consider how the development will impact all residents in Oswego, their quality of life, the impact on traffic, and the effect it will have on other taxing bodies. A high-density apartment complex or a massive subdivision with hundreds of houses could over-crowd our schools and negatively affect our infrastructure and roads.  The Village President must look at the big picture for all of Oswego and allow only responsible development that works for all of Oswego.

How do you propose the village fund its long-term needs for infrastructure improvement?

NO TAXES. I differ from others with my methodology in funding improvements.  I know we don’t need to raise taxes to fund these projects. I have found a way to pay for the 2 million dollars needed annually for road improvements WITHOUT tax increases. My plan for roads is stated in a previous answer.

In addition, there is grant money available.  The Board has been told there is over $1 million in grants that we haven’t accounted for in our current budget.

The latest population projection shows that Oswego’s population will increase by 12,000 in the next 10 years.  This population increase would bring in $86.4 million in water tap on fees alone. This number doesn’t include money these new residents will spend at businesses in Oswego, and it does not include revenue from new businesses that would be generated by this population increase.

NO TAXES are needed to fund future infrastructure improvements. The money is available. Raising taxes is the easy way out. I have done the hard work of searching for the surpluses and using them on necessary projects.

How can the village better use natural resources like the Fox River for its economic and cultural benefit?

The Fox River is a great natural resource for Oswego, and I want to increase our activities and festivals along the river. Our current Village President, Brian LeClercq, started “Kayaks N.A.M.O.Y.” (Paddling with the Mayors of North Aurora, Aurora, Montgomery, Oswego and Yorkville), which generated publicity for Oswego, the Fox River, and kayaking. We can use this increased awareness to encourage businesses to use the Fox River for recreation. Oswego would be a great location for such a business with our friendly access to the Fox River. 

What role should economic incentives play in attracting new desirable businesses to Oswego?

Oswego is a very desirable community. We rank 4th in housing starts in Northern Illinois. Developers and businesses want to be here and they are coming here without incentives.   52 new businesses opened in Oswego in 2014 alone, and major retailer DSW Shoes is currently building a prototypical building next to Best Buy. 

We added 4 new restaurants on the Orchard Road corridor.  We have the lowest square footage of available commercial space since 2011, and in 2014 we had the largest absorption of space since 2008.  

A few years ago, my opponent supported giving $300,000 of OUR TAX DOLLARS to a local business when they threatened to leave Oswego if they didn’t get the money. I said NO. Today that same business is still in Oswego, they completed the renovations WITHOUT an incentive from our tax dollars, and their largest competitor the FORD dealership is investing $1.33 million dollars in their renovations, all WITH NO INCENTIVES.   

This proves that businesses want to be in Oswego. The Village of Oswego doesn’t need to offer economic incentives or give away our taxpayer dollars to attract developers. 

How can the village better work with School District 308 to help ease the district’s property tax burden on local property owners?

The Village of Oswego needs to be very mindful of how our commercial and residential development and developer incentives will impact our schools. A TIF district would give developers a financial benefit, but it will prevent our Oswego schools from collecting all of the tax dollars they deserve from that development. As a teacher at Oswego East High School, I know our schools can’t afford this.   A TIF takes tax dollars needed for the children of Oswego and puts it the developer’s pocket. My opponent supported a TIF district and I will not.

Residential development is another example of how the Village and the School Board must work together. Large or high density residential developments put a strain on our school’s resources. Approving a very large subdivision just because there is available farm land will overwhelm our schools, our roads, and our village resources.

There is a difference between growth and responsible growth. Responsible growth takes into consideration the effect the development will have on the entire community. I only support Responsible Growth.

What will be your role in attracting a future Metra stop in Oswego?

I believe Oswego is the best location for a Metra stop in the area and I will fight vigorously for an Oswego Metra stop. There are several issues that are outside of our control, but I will make sure Oswego has done everything in its power to put us in the best possible position for a Metra stop, while remaining fiscally responsible to our taxpayers.

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