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Arlington Hts. mayoral candidates spar over spending
By Sheila Ahern | Daily Herald Staff

Arlene Mulder


Phillip Walter


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Published: 3/4/2009 12:06 AM

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According to Arlene Mulder, Phillip Walter doesn't have enough experience or time to be the village president of Arlington Heights.

According Walter, Mulder is part of a government that wastes money on items like hybrid cars and on programs like the Hearts of Gold.

Both running for Arlington Heights village president, Mulder and Walter squared off Tuesday at a candidates forum hosted by the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. About 50 people attended the debate, which was emceed by Jon Ridler, the chamber's executive director.

"The village spent $30,000 over budget for the Prius (hybrid) cars without investigating the cost savings," Walter said. "The village has also budgeted $100,000 for interns and summer help. I would cut that before I ever looked at laying off employees."

When village employees are being laid off, the village should not spend its money to partially fund community events like the Hearts of Gold awards and the Mane Event festival, which precedes the running of the Arlington Million, Walter said.

Mulder accused Walter of not being realistic.

"The most difficult thing to avoid is personnel," she said. "When 80 percent of your budget is personnel, it's impossible to avoid."

Two weeks ago, the village laid off six employees to make up for low revenues. When trustees start 2009-10 budget talks on Monday, they will have fewer funds to budget because of the 0.32 percent levy increase the board approved in December.

Because of pension commitments, the village will actually collect $165,000 less for general purposes than in 2009.

Mulder says she works about 60 hours a week, including weekends, and questioned whether Walter, who is the president of his own mid-sized roofing company in Elmhurst, would have that kind of time for the job.

"Absolutely, being mayor would be my priority,"Walter said. "I can go back to work after I'm done here. I'm also involved in charity work that would probably be dropped."

If elected, Walter said he would bring business experience to the job of mayor. Currently he runs a 100-employee company. Mulder said her 16 years of experience in the political world is better than Walter's business experience.

"I work with other governments on a local, state and national level," she said.

Mulder is running for her fifth term as village president. Since 2000, Walter has run twice for trustee and lost. For the past few years, Walter has been a regular at village board meetings criticizing spending and how open the board is for regular citizens.

The chamber will hold another forum for Arlington Heights trustee candidates on Tuesday, March 10. Trustees will mingle with residents from 4 to 4:30, and the forum will run until 6 p.m. The public is invited to the free event.

The election is April 7.