Pradel says teamwork pulled Naperville from hard times

Updated 1/28/2013 5:56 PM
  • George Pradel

    George Pradel

A second consecutive year of increased sales tax revenues and a 9 percent spike in real estate transfer tax revenues have Naperville officials feeling confident about the city's economic future.

Mayor George Pradel delivered his 18th annual State of the City address Monday at the recently renovated Chicago Naperville Marriott Hotel and said the teamwork that has helped the city attain new heights must continue.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I am here today to tell you that the state of our beloved city is strong and will remain strong because the entire community works together," Pradel said. "Teamwork moves Naperville forward. We are one team. With this attitude we provide the people who live and work here with an exceptional quality of life."

The driving force behind this year's speech, he said, was the major increases in several city revenue sources.

Pradel said the city's sales tax receipts are already $1 million ahead of the $28.5 million in retail sales tax revenues the city saw last fiscal year. The city's pre-recession high was $27.1 million.

Pradel said the city's housing market also is showing strong signs, with 1,000 homes sold between May and August of last year.

"That's more than a 40 percent increase from the same time in 2011," Pradel said. "And our real estate transfer tax is rising as a result. We've estimated we'll take in $2.85 million, a 9 percent increase from 2011."

Pradel said those numbers could only be achieved with the help of groups like the Naperville Development Partnership, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Naperville Homeowners Confederation.

"Thanks to these partnerships, we are writing the new post-recession story of Naperville," Pradel said. "We are seeing the economy recover because of solid financial decisions. I am confident by working together, we'll continue to recover."

In addition to the positive news on the revenue front, Pradel highlighted several projects that are in the works and expected to keep Naperville thriving, including the $30 million, four-story Main Street Promenade East, which is scheduled to be completed this year.

The project is expected to add 100,000 square feet of space connected to the Van Buren parking garage. About 33,000 square feet will be first-floor commercial space and the remaining three floors will be office space.

Also coming this year is a new Wal-Mart Supercenter at 75th Street and Beebe Road, which is expected to produce about $750,000 in annual sales tax revenues.

The project that drew the largest cheer, however, was news that public restrooms will be in place by Memorial Day in Central Park, just in time for the summer concert season.

Pradel also praised the achievements of all of the city's other major entities, including North Central College's hiring of new President Troy Hammond and Naperville Unit District 203's promotion of Dan Bridges to superintendent.

Many in attendance said the mayor's fiscal update means good things for everyone.

"At the end of the day, we focus on real statistics and the actual number of sales in this community is higher today than it was pre-recession," said newly seated Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Mike Evans. "That means people are back spending their money and they are confident in their own fiscal security."

State Rep. Darlene Senger, a Naperville Republican, said she too walked away with a feeling of confidence.

"I feel pretty confident that we're turning around. This is the second year in a row that (Pradel) has told us sales tax is up and now income tax is up," Senger said. "All of those are positives. It's good to hear all of these things are happening in Naperville."

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