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Joliet mayor highlights successes in State of the City

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk took time to highlight areas of success for the City in 2017 during his recent State of the City address.

“It’s been a tremendous time the last couple years for the city,” he said.

Last spring, Joliet’s city manager stepped down from his post.

O’Dekirk acknowledged the challenges this created and said thanks to the work of departmental heads, staff members, City Attorney Marty Shanahan and Inspector General Chris Regis for stepping up until the hiring of David Hales.

The City prides itself on working to bring municipal government to the 21st century. Initiatives of note include the launching of a new website with an economic development section, as well as efforts to promote efficiency and transparency.

“There’s a tremendous amount of development going on in the City,” O’DeKirk said.

The Joliet City Council last year took action to expand and extended the downtown area special service area and tax increment finance district to promote reinvestment.

“It’s an important step towards the development of downtown,” O’Dekirk said.

In another 2017 development, the City celebrated the groundbreaking for the Will County Courthouse in 2017. Coupled with an intergovernmental agreement, the City and Will County solidified plans to reopen Chicago Street. The latter was in talks long before the Joliet City Council took action last year.

“In 2017, we stopped talking about it, and we did it,” O’Dekirk said.

Joliet has demonstrated a history of commitment to addressing the community’s diverse needs.

“Joliet, as many of you know, is a very diverse city, and diverse in a lot of different ways,” O’Dekirk said. “One of the pillars of diversity we have in the city is we have neighborhoods—entire neighborhoods—where the houses are less than 10 years old, and we have entire neighborhoods where the houses are over than 100 years old. So, with a city our age, there’s an old and aging infrastructure that needs to be addressed.”

The Joliet City Council last year approved the replacement of approximately four miles of new water mains at a cost of $6.6 million. In a related development, the City rehabilitated about nine miles of sewer pipes at a cost of $6.2 million.

“I think it’s an important step for the city council,” O’Dekirk said. “We’re going to see this moving forward the same in 2018.”

In 2017, the City of Joliet lost $1.6 million in funds to the State of Illinois. The City still ended the year with a reserve fund balance of $53 million.

State statutes stipulate that municipal bodies are to keep two months of reserve.

“We are almost double where need to be,” O’Dekirk said.

O’Dekirk gave credit to staff members and Joliet officials for keeping the City’s finances in tact.

“The City of Joliet is being managed responsibly and properly, and we are in good condition,” he said.