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Roadwork, economic development highlight Villa Park village manager's address

VILLA PARK – Villa Park held its State of the Village address Feb. 26, sharing its accomplishments of the past year and plans for 2015.

Village Manager Rich Keehner Jr. discussed street improvements, economic development and more with residents who attended the talk at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park.

Here are some highlights from the village manager’s talk.

Paving the way

In November 2014, Villa Park residents voted to approve a $23 million referendum to improve streets and perform major street reconstruction during a seven-year period.

The first two bond series have been issued, and a resident oversight committee will meet for the first time Monday to oversee the spending of the money from the bond issuances.

Quote of note: "We proposed and we established this committee of residents to oversee the spending of the money to be transparent. We have nothing to hide."

Balanced budget

Village staff has proposed a balanced budget to the Village Board of Trustees and village president.

Villa Park's surplus funds have grown during the past few years from 42 days' worth of funds to 144 days. These funds would be used by Villa Park to continue to pay its bills if other funding sources were cut off.

Quote of note: "We are fiscally responsible."

Crime crackdown

The Villa Park Police Department is fully staffed, and it has increased foot patrols in targeted areas to deter crime.

The department also has supplemented patrols with the purchase of a gator vehicle.

Some targeted areas include the North Avenue townhomes and Metra train station.

The station's parking lot now has better lighting and security cameras.

Quote of note: "When I first arrived in 2011, we did have a number of complaints about [the Metra station area], but in the last probably 18 months, there's been a lot of compliments about the items I just mentioned."

Down to business

The village has created two new tax increment financing districts, and new businesses have moved to town or are on their way.

One TIF district includes the Garden Station development, Metra station and Jefferson Pool, and the other includes the old post office, a gas station, Villa Park Historical Society and Visitors Center, Community Recreation Building and fields.

Sal's Beverage World is being built along Roosevelt Road, and Lucky Motors car dealership has opened there too.

A new facade improvement program for businesses on Villa Avenue allows them to remodel their exteriors and create an atmosphere to encourage people to do their business in the area.

Quote of note: "That's very advantageous for us. We're always looking for a funding stream for improvements to our pools."

Looking ahead

Gov. Bruce Rauner has proposed a 50-percent reduction in the annual income tax revenue Villa Park receives from the state, meaning the village would lose $1.1 million each year on a permanent basis.

Despite those looming concerns, 2015 brings the promise of a new, grant-funded fire engine and the village's first Parks Master Plan, currently being developed with the help of resident input.

Quote of note: "It’s a tremendous amount of money for Villa Park."

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