Message from the Mayor
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is looking forward to beginning a new year. The Village Board ended 2016 by passing the 2017 budget. We are in the best financial shape we have ever been in, and our future (barring state interference) is bright!
Budget preparations actually began when the Board held its retreat last spring. We devised a two-year strategic plan with four priorities: financial sustainability, effective governance, infrastructure and economic development. Initiatives, target goals, and outcomes flowed from these four priorities. This plan is integral to the smooth running of Village government. Not only do we have a two-year work plan to transition the change in leadership next spring, but it keeps all Board members focused on the goals and lets our management team know what we expect of them. The budget was put together based on this information.
Our economic development efforts over the past few years are bearing fruit. We are having regular ribbon cutting ceremonies for new businesses—anything from a Z’yia Sweets, a small sweets store to the AOI/BOS office furniture warehouse. I am pleased that with our aggressive budget, we anticipate an ending with a surplus of revenues over expenditures of about $255,000 in our General Fund, providing flexibility to handle unanticipated needs throughout the year.
Because of increased revenues, we already met the three financial goals in our strategic plan. We planned to work toward a 35 percent cash reserve in our General Fund, and with this budget, it is almost 40 percent! The budget includes a five-year capital improvement plan that is fully funded, and we limited our average annual increase to 2 percent. Other than the previously approved annual increases in the water, sewer, and CIS rates, we did this without raising additional resident or business taxes, fees, licenses or fines.
We are committed to increasing our information technology, replacing aging hardware/software, adding on-site technical support and installing a large screen TV in our Village Hall foyer, visible from the vestibule, for additional communication. We will also be conducting another community survey, to compare it to the one we did three years ago. Many of our strategic initiatives came from the previous survey and enough time has passed to check on how we did, and what new concerns or interests you have. Keeping a pulse on the needs of our community has been a goal of this Village Board for a number of years.
While we work to improve the condition of our streets, to the tune of $1.1 million this upcoming year, our largest capital infrastructure expenditures continue to be in water and sewer, and will be for the next 15+ years. We will be spending $1 million in water main replacements next year and about $4.1 million in wastewater projects. We have set aside almost $400,000 for municipal building and facility repairs. I can’t believe the Village Hall will be 20 years old next year, and it is time for an interior facelift.
Outside of our regular street improvement program, we will be resurfacing Central Ave. from Gary Ave. to Roselle Rd. We anticipate receiving $783,750 in Federal Surface Transportation Program monies to help with the $1.05 million cost.
This past year, the Village completed a new Comprehensive Plan, outlining planned Village growth in the next 5, 10 and 15 years. It was completed with the help of both residents and business owners. It is an exciting plan and your Board will be deciding on priorities as we begin working with it.
We continue our economic development efforts, with both existing businesses and new opportunities. We value our existing businesses and want to make sure we give them every opportunity to stay and expand. We plan to attend a retailer’s convention in the Midwest for parcels that are vacant or could be redeveloped. We have budgeted money to do a business survey, and are holding discussions with the Town Center businesses concerning the formation of a Main Street organization. We are also boosting our activity related to the Village-owned property at the southwest corner of Roselle Rd. sand 390.
Looking back, in 2008 we were faced with a $1 million deficit in our General Operating Fund. With 70 percent of that fund comprised of personnel costs, we had our work cut out for us. A finance subcommittee of the Village Board studied this problem and recommended that we do an in depth study of each department for efficiency, organization and the proper amount of personnel. As we went through each department, we re-organized and reduced personnel. In short, we became a lean and efficient Village government—some might consider that an oxymoron! The personnel reductions were not easy, but I am proud of all the Board members from 2008 to present who were willing to do the right thing. This hard work has brought us to the financial place we are at today.
As important as it was for Board members to make tough decisions, those recommendations came from our Management Team. I would be remiss if I did not recognize the heavy-lifting they did to achieve our goals. All department heads monitor their budgets throughout the year and recommend waiting on an item when an unexpected expense arises. I trust their judgement and care for Roselle implicitly.
Following recommendations from the Fire Department organizational study that we conducted a few years ago, we are moving forward with the creation of a Battalion Chief position in the Fire Department and reclassifying the administrative assistant position there from part-time to full-time. We are currently conducting an organizational study for the Police Department, and have been holding off on some vehicle replacements and personnel hiring until we get those results. There will be an increased emphasis on community oriented policing and Neighborhood Watch. We recognize that strengthening ties within our community has never been more important.
So, Roselle ends 2016 on a very positive note. We have a two-year work plan, a new Comprehensive Plan for our future, a five-year Capital Improvement plan that is fully funded, a AA+ bond rating, ending cash balances to handle unexpected problems, and a healthy cash reserve. Our budget includes the funding necessary to provide the residents and businesses owners of this community continued cost effective and efficient administrative, public safety and public works services, dealing with updating infrastructure and a commitment to continue to grow our economy. Here’s to a great 2017!