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Village president: State of Glen Ellyn 'sound'
By Marco Santana | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/26/2010 12:00 AM | Updated: 1/26/2010 9:26 AM

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In his first State of Glen Ellyn address as village president, Mark Pfefferman called the village's situation "sound" but acknowledged that the next year could be tough.

"We are fortunate to be here," he said. "But we have challenges going forward."

Among those challenges are an 11 percent vacancy rate on businesses that Pfefferman said has village officials focusing further on economic development as well as a continual decrease in new development, which last year stood at about $22 million.

But despite those problems, he said he was encouraged by a net increase in new businesses in 2009 as well as an unexpected increase in sales tax revenue and steady property tax receipts. He also presented figures on the budget, which he projected would use roughly $3.9 million of reserve funds. However, he said this was good news because forecasts had called for about $4.8 million of reserves to be used.

Going forward, he said it's going to be another year of trying to squeeze as much out of resources as possible.

"Every company in the country goes through this more with less thing so what can we do to lower our costs while enhancing our services?" he said. "That will take some creative thinking."

One accomplishment he cited that will be important in the next fiscal year was the formation and approval of the Downtown Strategic Plan. The plan, which was approved on Oct. 26, will establish a new permanent downtown organization charged with improvements. The Downtown Advisory Commission has already met with other area towns to research its work.

In a departure from previous board presidents' addresses, Pfefferman had heads of several departments list their 2009 accomplishments, as well as goals they have in 2010.

Some looked forward to anticipated grant money that will allow many infrastructure projects to be completed in 2010, including the repair of Bryant Avenue, which Public Works Director Joe Caracci called the "unofficial worst roadway in Glen Ellyn."

Finance Director Jon Batek said the use of that grant money and balancing the budget will again be a tough process but that remains the No. 1 priority for his department.

"Resources may get taken away but expectations increase," he said.

Also at the meeting, police Chief Phil Norton announced a new three-year contract had been reached with officers.

Under the agreement, officers will receive a 1.5 percent raise immediately, retroactive to Nov. 1. They will then receive raises of 2.5 percent on Nov. 1, 2010, and 2.75 percent in 2011. The contract expires Oct. 31, 2012.

"We have seen some real trouble in other communities; people playing games until the last minute," village Manager Steve Jones said. "We did not see that here."