My name is Kathy O’Hara and I am running for reelection as President of the Village Board of Trustees of Lake Bluff at our V.O.T.E. Town Meeting to be held Tuesday, Dec. 6th at 6:30pm at the Lake Bluff Middle School Gym.
Over the past four years under the direction of the Board and the Administration, the village has flourished. We have been very aware of the burden of property taxes on our residents. The Village’s portion of the property tax is less than 10% of the total resident’s property tax. We have been very careful with that stewardship, aggressively pursuing other sources of revenue to fund village needs. We have a vibrant and active downtown with business and special events which draw in people from outside our community. Our western corridor, with the new Target and other establishments has substantially bolstered our sales tax revenues and the industrial park has been drawing new businesses. The Village has attained and maintained a Triple A credit rating and healthy reserves to position our community to weather possible state budgetary concerns and help fund our capital improvement plans.
The Village is about to enter Phase 2 of a branding initiative which is intended to enhance Lake Bluff’s image as a business and residential community. We have launched our second 6 year Strategic Plan with over 40 community members participating in the process. The Board and Administration has used the orginial 2011 Strategic Plan over the past five years to set the village’s yearly goals and objectives and act accordingly. Last year a new “Sustainability and Enhancement Advisory Committee was established to promote best practices in environmental and beautification for the Village.
The Village, like all municipalities, often meets with prospective business owners and developers. This is a very normal and expected activity. The purpose of these meetings is to explain the process for potential approval, various fees, restrictions and options they might have to try to move their project forward. The Village has a defined, proscribed process for any proposals. They are thoroughly vetted by independent volunteer advisory boards, with ample time and opportunity for community feedback and discussion before any proposal may come before the Village Board. This process ensures the rights of the residents and the rights of developers to proceed fairly through an open process.
Below are some examples of ongoing and recently completed Village initiatives which support our goals of Fiscal Stability,
Public Safety and Capital Improvements:
- The redevelopment of the vacant Shepard Chevrolet site into a Target store, along with several retail franchise and food establishments, increased sales tax revenues, including home rule tax, from 32% to 38%.
- Modification of zoning regulations in the Waukegan Road Corridor business park , has promoted a more business friendly environment, and has led to site improvements and increased retail and commercial activity. The Village will continue to initiate recommendations from the Business Corridor study to reposition the area during the next ten years.
- Completed the first full year of outsourced public safety dispatch which reduced full time staff by three positions and is projected to result in $900,000 in savings over the seven year contract
Continued implementation of the Village Brand initiative to promote the Village brand
- Changed to a biennial budgeting process to allow improved planning and visioning of village services and costs.
- Initiated negotiations for a new waste disposal contract which will result in significant savings and service improvements over the next several years
- Completed pedestrian crossing safety improvements at Sheridan Road and Scranton Ave for users of the train station.
- obtained a state grant which allowed the construction of a pedestrian/bicycle path to connect public safety building area with bike trail on west side of Sheridan Road with state grant.
- Ongoing review of our volunteer fire department viability and discussions of options that will ensure its continued role in the community.
- Excellent stewardship of public safety assets, including assuring highest standards of professionalism in policing and fire protection.
- Conducted a storm water study which has resulted in a plan to minimize viaduct flooding under Rt.176This study is currently under review by Illinois Department of Transportation which controls both the viaduct and Rt. 176. IDOT must approve all plans before improvements can be made.
- Continued to lead and finalize the development of a design plan for reconfiguration of Rt.176 and Rt. 41(both state owned roads). Fully funded by state and federal funds.
Continued the planning process to address short and long term maintenance and replacement of sewers in East Lake Bluff, the Bath and Tennis area and the West Terrace.
- Completed lighting and paving improvements to train station parking lot
- Completed replacement of water valves on West side of Village
- Annually increased expenditures for street resurfacing program
- *Updated and expanded from 5 to 10 years the Village multi-year capital plans and vehicle and equipment replacement schedule.
- Obsolete water meters will be replaced by an automatic reading system to improve the water system infrastructure.
- Continue a multi-year program to replace pumps, piping, and control systems for the six sanitary lift systems.
I am very proud of what the Village Board and Administration has accomplished over the past four years would be grateful for your support on December 6th to continue this work on behalf of our community.
President of the Lake Bluff Board of Trustees
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