2015 5th ward alderman candidate: Cameron Zelaya

By Andre Phillips

Clarification: Zelaya incorrectly told the Northern Star $2.1 million in cuts acme from “sales tax” the state reimburses the city. Zelaya meant to say “income tax.”

Involvement: DeKalb County Health Department in-person counselor, First Congregational Church of Christ choir member and Hope Haven volunteer

Q: What do you think is the most pressing issue in your ward?

A: [The] most pressing issue that I’ve heard from the residents, I’ve been going around knocking on doors trying to spread the word that I’m running and hoping to be a voice of the people and best represent the people of the 5th ward.

What I keep hearing is that property taxes are too high. The city’s portion of the property tax, there are 10 taxing districts, the one that takes up the biggest portion is the school district, so there taking up about 62 percent of the property tax that people pay. The city portion will only be 8 percent.

With that being said, I absolutely keep in mind every time that whatever portion of any future property tax would be raised, I have to keep I mind that is real things for people — that’s going to be groceries for a month for people. One thing I want to keep in mind going forward, doing what we can not just on the city level, but see what we can do other working with other agencies, other taxing districts to see if we can express and make it clear to them that people in the area currently feel pressured by the level of property taxes.

Q: What is your position on lowering taxes?

A: Currently, it’s hard to say exactly because the city of DeKalb doesn’t yet know where it fully stands. Currently, we’re facing a reduction in some of the state’s refunding of sales taxes to us. Depending on how we react to that, whether or not those cuts are approved, because currently they’re only potential. So depending on changes in that, that might change the level of property tax that we need. I want to represent the voice of the people, so I would not necessarily be in favor of raising [taxes] at any time in the near future.

Q: If there are any budget cuts, how would they affect the schools, NIU, businesses, etc.?

A: Each of those organizations have their own bodies with which to govern with, so of course the school district has the school board. We’re looking at the $2.1 million potential cuts that we’re facing if those come to fruition. That’s going to resolve in a hefty chunk of the city having to scale back on its budget.

Like I said in my recent candidate forum, we’re going to have to look at all departments ultimately to see which cuts we can make and do our best to make targeted intelligent cuts so that we’re trying to reduce the amount of reduction of services to the people as we can.

I would like to work, if given the opportunity, with keeping the Public Works Department and Police Department as close to the current levels of funding as they are because those are the core services that residents expect any city to provide.