Will County has made progress over the last year in the eyes of Will County Executive Larry Walsh, who said officials want to uphold fiscal responsibility, continue collaborating to put an end to veteran homelessness and advance infrastructure projects to promote balance between quality of life and economic development.
On Thursday, Aug. 17, Walsh told the crowd at the Will County Office Building in Joliet during his State of the County address that the County is pleased with that progress.
“I am proud to report this has been another successful year,” Walsh said.
At the start of fiscal year 2018, Will County’s corporate fund achieved $49.8 million in cash and investments, which is 25 percent of the 2017 corporate fund budget. That means officials accomplished the County’s goal to meet its targeted reserve for 10 consecutive years.
“Let me point out, though, that these dollars are not excess funds, but resources set aside to continue to meet our financial obligations,” Walsh said.
The effort to promote fiscal responsibility allowed Will County to earn its AA-plus bond rating in 2009, which officials have maintained since then.
Walsh credits the success of the County to its disciplined approach to governing.
Walsh said it is a very exciting time in Will County, as they proactively plan for a brighter future. The county’s central location in the Midwest serves as both a blessing and a challenge to many as they note the growth exhibited, he said.
“As of the one of the fastest growing counties in the state and the nation, we continue to see economic growth and remain very optimistic about our future,” Walsh said. “The success we enjoy now is no accident. It is the result of many years of being fiscally responsible, planning wisely and working together toward shared goals. It is also maintaining our top priority serving our residents. Each day, we transform detailed plans into precise actions and are seeing the results of this hard work.”
The growth of the intermodal facility, Walsh said, has earned the county the title of the largest inland port in North America, but it comes with a cost of roadways packed with trucks delivering goods.
“Due to this challenge, we worked with [Illinois Department of Transportation], the Will County Center for Economic Development and other partners in the private sector to conduct a Community Friendly Freight Mobility Study that we are wrapping up this month,” he said. “This study took a comprehensive look at the freight movement into and out of our county. It has many goals, but the key points are to remain economically competitive, while balancing the quality of life for our residents.”
Walsh said finding this balance is “no easy task.”
“There are times when major developments are a possibility in our county, but without the necessary infrastructure in place to handle the flow of traffic safely, we may not be able to move forward,” he added.
Officials across the county continue to seek additional dollars to improve Interstate 80, Interstate 55 and other roadways that support commerce and residents.
Also this year, Will County became the 50th community in the nation to put an end to veteran homelessness.
“What this means is we have been successful in assisting any veteran who has come to us in search of housing,” Walsh said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently recognized the success of the Will County Continuum of Care touting efforts to collaborate.
To this aim, Walsh said he is proud to know many organizations in the county are doing their part to honor veterans for their service.
Walsh wanted to thank everyone who came out to hear the State of the County address.
“It’s because of all of you [that] have been all working together that we make this county the way it is — as great a county as it is,” he said.