ELMHURST — Sixth Ward Alderman Steve Morley says if elected mayor, his top priority would be growing and attracting business to Elmhurst.
“If we have a good economic engine in town, then all the kinds of services that we want and all the individual services that we need to provide to the citizens of Elmhurst can come out of that,” he said. “But if you don’t have the economic engine set up, then you kind of get in this spiral of cutting services just to stay on pace with inflation.”
Morley, who is halfway through his second term as alderman, said he supports the new tax increment financing district on North York Road, the city’s fourth such district. However, he said the city doesn’t necessarily need any other new incentives or programs for developers or prospective business owners that it doesn’t already have.
“A lot of it has to do with communicating what the city already has to offer,” he said.
One of the city’s bigger redevelopment efforts, Hahn Street, is close to going out for requests for proposals from developers.
The mayoral candidate said he doesn’t want to limit the creativity of developers, but that he would prefer condos over rental apartments for the residential portion of what will likely be a mixed-use building at Hahn Street.
At the other major development project in Elmhurst, Addison Street, Morley said he wants to see more fine-print details of the six-story option before he decides between that and the four-story proposal.
Closed City Council meetings about the development in September violated the Open Meetings Act, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, and Morley said he thinks the council needs more training on the law.
“If the attorney general said we stepped over the line, then the council as a whole stepped over the line,” he said. “We all took the class online about the Open Meetings Act. Well, obviously we need more training.”
Morley described himself as a consensus maker. He pointed to the hiring freeze he proposed that went into effect during the gap between former longtime City Manager Tom Borchert’s departure and the arrival of new City Manager Jim Grabowski in 2011.
“And that allowed for, in my opinion, a smooth transition from the city manager who had been there for 28 years to somebody who was coming in,” he said.
Morley also listed the city’s recent electricity aggregation as an accomplishment during his aldermanic tenure. Aggregation allowed the city to bundle residents’ electricity accounts and shop for a new provider, which now saves residents and businesses about $4.2 million a year.
As far as city infrastructure, Morley said the stormwater and sewer systems would be a top priority.
“There are parts of our system that are over 100 years old,” he said. “Property values, insurance, cleanup — whether your home flooded or not, everybody’s touched by that.”
He expressed frustration with how long that plan has taken to emerge since the city hired consultants in 2010. City task forces have since made their recommendations to a city committee, which is analyzing the myriad solutions.
“But we’re talking about solutions and ideas that cost tens of millions of dollars, and we don’t want to rush into it,” he said.