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McHenry County treasurer candidates laud their financial backgrounds, say more tech is needed – Shaw Local


The three candidates for the McHenry County treasurer’s job touted their business and finance experience as the reason voters should pick them for the role.

Each noted they have spent their professional lives in corporate finances and know how to manage and invest taxpayers’ money once it’s collected. All three said improved technology can help make collecting taxes easier on residents, too.

The current treasurer, Glenda Miller, is not running for reelection.

Amin Karim, 63, of Crystal Lake, is running on the Democratic ticket. He holds a master’s degree in finance and worked with large corporations, bank systems and international finance before he retired, he said.

Donna Kurtz, 63, of Crystal Lake, is a former McHenry County Board member. The Republican candidate said she has a background in information technology and financial advising, was a stock broker and has corporate management experience.

James S. “Jim” Young, 78, of Crystal Lake, is the Libertarian candidate. The former chief financial officer at a medical company holds a master’s degree in finances and accounting.

As a retiree, Karim said he chose to run as he saw all the “noise we are hearing every day as a nation. Instead of getting frustrated, I am giving back to my community.”

A priority for his candidacy is bringing taxpayers’ money to local banks rather than out-of-state investments. Now, Karim said, McHenry County tax dollars are invested outside of Illinois.

“I would bring money back to the state so it can be put in local banks,” he said.

He also wants to focus on technology by improving the county’s website.

“Our website is so old. There is not enough information … for ordinary people to understand,” Karim said.

Information about how taxpayer dollars are invested also should be at a resident’s fingertips by a click on the website, he said.

“If they do not like our investments, they can raise that issue to the board meeting. I want people involved in how taxpayer money is invested,” Karim said.

What Kurtz wants to see for the office, she said, is additional automation while maintaining the current staff.

“They are the ones that have done an exemplary job of serving the people of this county. A new treasurer has to recognize that,” Kurtz said.

Kurtz said the county could learn from other counties already using cloud-based tools to automate tax payments.

“Allow people to set up future tax payments. They sign up and get an alert that says, ‘Hey, we will draw this from your account,’ ” Kurtz said, adding that the alerts will prevent bank surprises for taxpayers.

“They don’t have to worry about missing a tax payment, and it would streamline the tax payment process,” she said.

As treasurer, Kurtz said she wants to create a “richer outreach program” through the county to “address key financial issues that affect people of this county. People of the county need to understand the different tax programs” available to them, including older residents and veterans.

As a CFO, Young said she often went into companies with “bad accounting systems and have straightened them out.”

Young added that he was unaware of any problems at the treasurer’s office, but if elected, “I would be prepared to fix it.” If elected, he said, he is less concerned about “policymaking” but instead looks forward to collecting and then investing taxpayer money.

All Young said he wants to do is “run the office in an effective manner and do the best with the public’s money.”

That can be done by adopting new practices and technology, he said.

“Technology … comes along that makes it better, faster and easier” to do the job, Young said.

He added that he wants to ensure residents know where their tax dollars are going.

Young pointed to the number of taxing bodies in Illinois. In the townships, “if you look at the property tax bill, the amount you are charged is so small [that voters] are not interested in it,” Young said.

Fewer taxing bodies, creating fewer elected officials, would be a start, Young said.

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