DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin gave a crowd of business professionals and elected officials a look ahead at what to watch for in 2020 during his annual State of the County address Jan. 8.
“As we move into this new year, it’s important to know that DuPage County doesn’t need glasses,” Cronin said during his address at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton in Downers Grove. “That’s because we have 20/20 vision.”
Cronin said he remains convinced that as elected officials collaborate with community partners this year, they will create a perfect vision for DuPage County.
Initiatives to be undertaken in 2020 include the U.S. Census.
“This count will have a tremendous impact on the funds we receive and how we administer local services,” Cronin said.
The county last year created a panel dubbed the Complete Count Committee to provide direction and guidance to ensure an accurate count. It meets every month.
“Each year, we strive to deliver the highest quality of services,” Cronin said. “The census is the important task, I have to say, on the big-picture platform.”
Cronin touted the quality of the county’s services, saying they are the hallmark of living and doing business in DuPage County.
One way the county demonstrates its commitment to serving the public is through the County Accountability Consolidation and Transparency (ACT) initiative, which Cronin said led the county to dissolve two units of government last year, all while working to ensure the interests of the residents and taxpayers are kept in mind.
“Fiscal responsibility is a core tenet of our mission as I see it,” Cronin said.
This is achieved in more ways than one.
The county last year passed its annual budget for 2020, which Cronin said reflects a continued restraint in spending and costs. It includes $476.2 million primarily for maintenance. Also in the budget is a property tax adjustment of $1.9 million with an expected property tax extension of $68.8 million, he said.
“Combined with a growing tax base and capturing new growth in the county, the county’s property tax rate is expected to decline,” he said. “The county’s share of total taxes expended will remain below 3% of your total property tax bill.”
When asked what the county is doing to bring in affordable housing, Cronin spoke of how the issue remains at the forefront.
“It remains a very, very important priority for us,” Cronin said. “The housing authority has recently forged a stronger partnership with our community services, and I am really delighted that we have changed and reformed what the experience has been there. As great of a place as DuPage County is, we need to make [it] an affordable place for people to come, to live and to work.”
Cronin said the county is working to address the need.
“We’ve gone through a period of time where the housing authority had to reset their bearings,” he said. “We’ve gotten out from under that shadow. We’ve gotten a good report from the regional office of Housing and Urban Development. I think there’s some great days ahead for affordable housing in DuPage.”
Cronin said he understands the challenges that 2020 brings, but the county is ready.
“I’m happy to report to you that our county is healthy,” Cronin said. “A vision is only as good as a leader’s ability to carry it on. Our results speak for themselves, I believe.”
Cronin added the county has a 2.5% unemployment rate, an AAA bond rating, balanced budget and low debt.
“As a county leader, I am focused on creating conditions that will allow businesses and families to grow and thrive, including reducing the size of government while making the government that we have more efficient,” he said.