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State of the City Address
April 18, 2017

Since taking office in April of 2016, the City already began its march towards tackling the five highest priority issues that we, as a community, would face over the next three fiscal years and beyond. The City and the community are aggressively and thoughtfully moving towards being a proactive community that hits such priority issues head on, versus the phrase of “this is the way it has always been.” These priority items, as listed below, will take hard work and great effort for our Council, our staff, and the community as a whole.

1. Economic Development
The City has seen a flurry of new businesses open and/or blighted properties that have been purchased. The businesses that have located or relocated within the city include Musicology, Rugan’s, Great Clips, AT&T, Athletico Physical Therapy, New Glarus bottling at the Ardagh plant, the MPC Property Management expansion, B-Town Tanning Salon, Nobius Press, Jimmy Johns and Oriental Healing Oasis increasing the overall assessed City value. Recently, the former K-Mart store and adjacent strip mall was purchase by a developer to revitalize the complex and draw in new commercial resources for our community. Likewise, the Community Development Authority finalized an Offer to Sell with Burlington Core Upgrades II, LLC for a vacant parcel in the downtown corridor. Plans to construct a mixed-use building that will enhance our downtown and create a stunning backdrop in close proximity to our beautiful Riverwalk is on the horizon.

Lastly, the City has been striving to acquire liquor licenses from nearby municipalities to recruit new restaurants and businesses to our community, while financially assisting these communities to fulfill their municipal projects.

Residential Development
As of April of 2016, eighteen new single-family or two-family homes have been constructed, Oak Park Place was completed with 40 assisted living and 40 memory care units, and Fox Crossing Apartments opened with 32 units.

2. Long Term Financial Stability
As our Tax Increment District (TID) Number Three draws to a close prior to 2018, comprising of approximately 24% of the equalized value of the City, the City’s levy authority will be impacted in 2019. The City recently retained Ehlers & Associates, Inc. to develop a Financial Management Plan to guide future budgeting and financial decisions. The plan accomplished several goals of examining existing financial strengths and weaknesses, identifying the potential financial impact to tax payers to fund operation and capital needs, and established financial guidelines related to debt management.

3. Infrastructure Maintenance
Staff recently completed the initial steps of selecting a comprehensive Capital Improvement (unfunded) and Equipment Replacement (funded) software program that will allow the Common Council to prioritize and identify long-term funding strategies. This program will be a great asset to assist in forecasting the needs of the City, while being cognizant of unnecessary spending. It will further supplement policies currently in place that prepare for future large scale spending.

Other community visible Capital Items include:

The Burlington Community Pool
The Pool Referendum that passed in November 2016 with construction slotted to occur after Labor Day 2017.

The old gas station at 256 West State Street
Staff has been working with a local Boy Scout looking to earn his Eagle Scout badge in which the property will be made into a beautiful green space. This will create a grand entrance into the City of Burlington while creating an inviting and walkable space for nearby restaurant and walkers to enjoy.

City and County buildings
The Library and City Hall buildings are city assets at the end of their life cycle, not to mention the Senior Center relocation and what will happen with the West End Racine County building set for demolition in the near future.

4. A competitive workforce
The Common Council recently commissioned Carlson Dettmann to complete a comprehensive employee compensation study for City staff. The purpose of the study was to understand where the City of Burlington employees compare to both public and private sector companies with respect to pay and benefits and make adjustments as necessary. As a result of the study, staff was placed on a competitive pay plan, which decreased the overall city contribution to employee benefits resulting in a $33,678 savings to the self- insurance fund.

5. Citizen Engagement
The City is working to improve two-way communication with the community and create more citizen involvement and volunteerism on all levels. This is shown by the increased desire from residents to participate in our various boards and committees.
The Common Council and staff recognize the need for the community to be informed, to be involved, and to create a safe and engaging community for themselves and their family.

6. Other Initiatives in Burlington
Besides what I have already mentioned, the City recently hired Fire Chief Alan Babe, Library Director Joe Davies, and Zander, our newest K-9 to police the safety of our schools. The community also helped the tornado survivors in Illinois during their time of need and we have strengthened Burlington Rescue Squad’s and the Burlington Fire Department’s service to the community with a recently adopted agreement for our full-time Fire personnel to assist on day-time EMS calls.

Burlington is buzzing with activity lately, whether it is our recent events such as the Ice Festival and Hot ChocolateFest, or our economic development and enhanced community involvement. I encourage everyone to explore our great city, visit our shops and restaurants and take in what Burlington has to offer. Don’t forget to smell the chocolate!

Mayor, Jeannie Hefty