Roselle mayor: Village focused on development, efficiency
Roselle Village President Gayle Smolinski on Tuesday outlined a handful of goals for tackling the village's tight budget and creating economic growth during her annual State of the Village address.
One day after Roselle officials met to discuss the village's $14.3 million budget — which has a deficit of about $170,000 — roughly 60 officials and members of the Roselle Chamber of Commerce met to learn more.
Smolinski said the village hired the consulting firm of Mallon & Associates earlier this year to identify locations in Roselle and nearby unincorporated areas that are ripe for business development. Now, she said, it's time for officials to look at those results and start making tough decisions.
"Are we willing to set up a small (tax increment financing) district in our Cook County areas? Hire a broker to represent Roselle?" Smolinski asked. "This is all under ongoing discussion and there are two mindsets on the board on these issues. Some see pursuing retail as a waste of time, others see this as a major component to enhance revenue."
Smolinski said a successful restaurant such as Bulldog Ale House can generate up to $50,000 a year in taxes. She said that's one reason officials were excited to grant a permit this week for a new sushi restaurant to open downtown in early spring.
Smolinski said she aims to secure annexation agreements with unincorporated areas around Roselle to improve its economic forecast.
"I want the possible potential retail growth to go to our village and not to neighboring towns," she said.
With Roselle's downtown tax increment financing district in its final year, Smolinski also recapped its 22-year history and defended its economic progress despite key vacancies.
The TIF eliminated obsolete buildings, opened downtown to all residents living on the west side of Roselle Road, and now is projected to bring Roselle $145,000 in tax revenue next year, Smolinski said. In 1990, the tax revenue was just $3,000.
"Anyone looking at our downtown knew that the outdated and obsolete buildings needed to go," Smolinski said.
In addition to economic development, Roselle's other main goals include finding the most efficient way to deliver services to residents and creating long-term fiscal sustainability, Smolinski said.
She highlighted areas where the village already has made cuts, including consolidating its 911 dispatch with DuComm, reducing village hall hours and reducing staff.
This was done, Smolinski said, so Roselle can continue offering essential services. Those services included in the 2013 budget include "modest" wage increases for village employees, a $1 million street improvement program, scheduled replacement of public safety vehicles and equipment, improvements to public buildings, updating technology and major stormwater repairs.
"It is a delicate balancing act," Smolinski said. "We will continue to look for innovative ways to solve the predicaments that face us. Deliberate and thoughtful doesn't mean doing the same thing the same way and banging our heads against a wall. We have always been open and receptive to change."
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