Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Mayor McLaughlin's "State of the Village Address"

Mayor McLaughlin provided me with a copy of his State of the Village address to the Orland Park Chamber of Commerce and I offer it here intact for your review. I'd love to hear your feedback:

Ray Hanania
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Mayor Daniel J. McLaughlin
State of the Village 2009
Orland Area Chamber of Commerce Breakfast
February 25, 2009

Good morning. I want to thank the Chamber for again inviting me to report on the state of the village. I also want to thank the Chamber for inviting me to be a part of their recent installation of officers.

(Mayor introduces Village Board members and Department Heads in attendance.)

Today’s headlines are scary: “Stock Market Down, State and Federal Budgets Tank, Foreclosures Up, Consumer Confidence Shaken, and Almost 8% Unemployed.”

Did you ever wonder what the level of consumer confidence would be if the headlines read: “92% Employed, Consumer Buying Power Best in Years, and Gasoline Prices at 10 Month Low?”

Well, I am going to tell you that Orland Park is not immune to problems facing the nation. When the national economy is struggling and the State of Illinois is worse, it’s no surprise that we, like every community, will have some problems.

We receive income from four main sources:
Sales tax revenue was 6.8% under budget in 2008, which was 5% less than Fiscal Year 2007;
Motor fuel tax in 2008 was 7.5% under budget in part because the state changed the distribution rate;

Real estate tax was relatively unchanged;

Income tax was actually up 6.8% over budget.

In addition, impact fees, which are part of the permit fees, were down considerably because so few new homes were built in 2008. Only 44 permits were issued for new construction of single family residences or townhomes. And like every town in America we have some residential foreclosures. However, we are working to identify families having problems before they reach foreclosure to try to help. Right now, we don’t find out until it’s too late.

However, I am here today to give you the confidence building headlines. One of our best decisions of 2008 was hiring Paul Grimes. I have repeatedly stated that we have the best municipal staff in Illinois. Well it just got considerably better. Paul’s background and experience and the way he works with people make him a great asset to the village. And the fact that he is still here after six months shows he has a great sense of humor.

Since I started talking about finances, let me continue there. We maintain an Aa2 bond rating from Moody’s and an AA+ rating from Standard and Poor’s. These are some of the best bond ratings in the suburbs and a very positive position to be in.

A few years ago we adopted financial policies to maintain very strong fund balances which today are proving to be critical and one more area that will help Orland Park weather the storm.

Because our budget year ended in October when most projects were winding down and looking for final payouts we found ourselves constantly carrying funds into the next budget year which was burdensome and at times confusing.

Last October we took on the extra task of planning and approving a 15 month budget. It was once again balanced but it involved trimming in some areas, cutting in other areas and pushing back some projects in light of our projected revenue being lower.

In addition, I directed the village manager to put a freeze on hiring full time positions unless public safety was an issue -- in my office as well. I know some of you came to know Jack Knight. Jack moved to a different position in another community and we are happy for him. That position and others will not be filled until it is appropriate.

While the village is a large operation, in many ways it’s no different than your small business or your home budget. If there is less money coming in you spend less.

We are very happy to have been able to continue rebating homeowners their Orland Park property taxes. We began a different procedure to help us in planning our balanced budget, and homeowners will still receive 80% to 85% of their real estate taxes paid to the Village of Orland Park.

The Village has always applied for the various grants that are available and last year was no different, also the results of a Special Census conducted last year will provide us with an additional $350,000.

I will tell you that our staff and I have been in constant contact with all of our representatives in Congress to make sure Orland Park is considered in the Federal Stimulus Package.

With new leadership in the State, I feel confident that we will finally see a Capital Bill which will help on several projects that we have been working on.

Our Recreation Department was busy in 2008 building four new parks and a disc golf course. I have gone frolfing myself several times at the new course and it is becoming very popular.

The 159th and LaGrange Road intersection improvement was finally completed and I think you will agree that it was a great improvement to our traffic flow in that area. We are now looking at some utility relocation in the spring and going out to bid with a fall start to the improvement of the 143rd and LaGrange Rd. intersection. These were the two biggest bottlenecks on LaGrange Rd. and I am looking forward to having both completed.

This might be the time to mention (as I touched on last year) the amount of public improvement projects done in the last 15 years and I mention this, so you know, that this board recognizes the need for infrastructure improvements and works hard to provide those improvements. $270 million dollars was spent in water main, sanitary sewer, storm water, road projects and building construction projects. Of that $270 million dollars the Village of Orland Park paid $161 million dollars towards those projects.

In 2008 we began the construction of a new 7.5 million gallon reservoir which will increase our storage capacity by 40%. This project will add another $9.1 million to that already impressive list.

Continuing in the spirit of providing some positive headlines, I believe you will find these numbers rather interesting. A retail vacancy rate under 10% for a community has always been considered positive. The national average for vacancy rates available from the beginning of the fourth quarter were at 13.4%. The vacancy rate in Orland Park is 7.36%. This continues to be a very strong retail market. We have over 8.5 million square feet of retail space and we continue to be in the top ten largest revenue producers in the state.

There is a certain amount of retail projects that were started a year or two before the economy hit the brick wall. Those projects were completed but never occupied. If you took that square foot figure out because we didn’t lose businesses at those locations, our vacancy rate would be 5.56%.

The National Average for office space vacancy is at 9.8% and Orland Park’s rate is 3.75%. Taking out the space that was never occupied and we are at 2.31%.
I have a list here with the names of 83 businesses that opened in Orland Park in 2008.

There were 18 new commercial construction projects in 2008 with a value of more than $20 million. There were also 226 businesses that took out remodeling permits, continuing to invest in their property.

Marcus Theaters expanded and we had several new restaurants including Fat Burger, Longhorn Steakhouse, Red Robin and Ottimo’s. A couple of side notes worth mentioning, the general manager of Red Robin said that this store’s opening week was the best opening week they have had in forty years. Plus, after six weeks, it is still the busiest in their national chain.

Ottimo’s was written up in the March edition of Chicago Magazine as one of the top ten new restaurants in the entire Chicago area.

American Technical Publishers built a green building in the I-80 corridor and are already employing more than 50 people.

Cooper’s Hawk opened a new winery in the Orland Park Business Center and expanded their restaurant on Harlem. They were recently invited to provide the wine for the Illinois Ball at President Obama’s Inauguration.

Speaking of the Presidential Inauguration wasn’t it great for Orland Park that Sandburg’s Band participated in the inaugural parade! I want to thank all of the businesses in Orland Park that helped sponsor their trip.

2009 already looks promising. Nordstrom Rack will be opening in April. Staybridge Suites Hotel at Southmoor Country Club will begin construction in spring. BMW is expanding. Terry’s Lincoln Mercury was just awarded a Subaru Dealership and they will begin their expansion project this year. Five Guys Burgers will fill the old Einstein Bagel location, and Culver’s Restaurant will be opening on 159th street. A new Sushi Bar is coming to 131st and LaGrange Road.

There are several retail developers talking with our planning department on specific properties and we are looking forward to those plans coming to fruition in 2009.

I mentioned earlier the small number of new residential permits issued in 2008, however it is a very good sign that 1,500 permits were issued last year for residential remodeling and/or additions. Fourteen hundred new families moved into Orland Park over the last two years which means homes in Orland Park are still selling and people still want to move here in spite of the economy.

We are proud that Orland Park received several honors in 2008. Money Magazine once again named Orland Park as one of the top 100 Best Places to Live in America.

The Orland Park Civic Center was named one of Illinois 150 Best Places by the American Institute of Architects.

The Government Finance Officer’s Association honored the village for its budget, and Orland Park received the Clean Air Counts Award for climate protection issues, our community tree ordinances, and development review process encouraging conservation.

The Orland Park Police Station received first place in the 2008 Merit Award Program for Rehab Construction from the Chicago Building Congress, along with having received LEED Gold certification for being the first “green” police station in the country.

Speaking of the Police, we continue to be a very safe community and can boast of having what I think is the best police department in the state.

The Public Works Department keeps us safe in a different way and they have been tested in December and January like never before. The amount of effort this season on snow removal and salting our streets was record setting.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give you an update on our downtown, Main Street Triangle project. While we continue to negotiate with the property owners, several retailers as well as developers have continued talking with our staff and have shown a great deal of confidence in this project. But as they say, timing is everything and even those businesses with a strong interest, need financing. Until the financial institutions begin to open up we will have to be patient. But keep in mind that the Board’s vision is to create a downtown district, and that vision has to be longer and more resilient than a short-term economic cycle.

I know there are many people here today, including myself, that shop at any number of the stores in the Plaza. And while some people like to create or spread rumors, I want you to know that every effort will be made to work with and assist those retailers in the Plaza with the sincere intentions that they stay in the project or very close by in Orland Park.

With all of the effort we make to attract retailers to Orland Park, we certainly wouldn't want to lose the good longstanding businesses we have.

Our numerous community events in 2008 provided the opportunities for activities that any great city would be proud of and which enhance our quality of life.

I know that I mentioned last year that in addition to the many areas of green construction, open space, energy conservation and recycling that we already lead the way on, I was going to introduce a major Green Initiative. We are working on some additional details and we look forward to rolling it out very soon.

Recently, Orland Park was selected as one of only 12 communities in the Chicago area to participate in the Commonwealth Edison Energy Challenge.

This is a challenge that we will need the help of the Chamber, along with other agencies and businesses in the community, to be successful.

As you can see we have a lot to be proud of, and a lot to be thankful for. But, we don’t take any of it for granted. We have tried to make tough decisions keeping the village moving forward with a keen eye on what’s going on around us. Decisions that I feel are appropriate and in the long-term, best interest of Orland Park.

I appreciate your patience once again as I try to bring you critical information about the village without sounding too much like an accountant explaining an audit.

We have once again provided a handout with some additional information. Have a great day!

1 comment:

  1. Great picture. Unfortunately he leaves out or covers up his failures. Why did he increase fees, taxes, work to move sucessful businesses out of OP. His bond rating is A++ but his debt is 100 million. You just have to look around and see the vacancies and wonder if he sees what's happening. He call Grimes a people person, I heard him called a bully. As for the mall he continues to pursue a vision that is destructive and deceiving. I wish we were all living in his world, unfortunately there is the reality of a crashing stock market, high unemplyment, foreclosures and a government that doesn't listen. If everything was as good as McLaughlin pretends we wouldn't be facing the problems we do today. People are waking up and looking around and making their own judgments. When they look around their conclusions will be different than the Mayors.

    George A. Tarasuk