Economic development tops Burke’s priorities for Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire Village Manager Brad Burke in his office Nov. 5 in Village Hall. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
LINCOLNSHIRE — With multiple elected officials preparing for their first trips from the northwest suburbs to Springfield as state legislators, we sat down with village administrators to ask about issues facing their community.
The municipal leaders re-iterated lingering local needs they hope will be addressed.
In Lincolnshire, the newly-hired Brad Burke spoke last week about the ways in which the new group of state representatives and senators could make life better in their hometowns.
Q: Can you briefly describe the top three issues Lincolnshire faces?
A: Focusing increased energy on economic development initiatives and activities to attract and retain businesses, and maintain Lincolnshire’s status as a premier location for office/light industrial, retail, and entertainment businesses in Lake County.
Maintaining the village’s current financial status while addressing needed infrastructure maintenance.
Developing a thorough and coordinated long-term capital plan, along with related financing plan, to address infrastructure and equipment needs.
Q: Given the economy, how would you describe Lincolnshire’s fiscal situation?
A: Throughout the years, Lincolnshire’s mayor and Village Board have conservatively and prudently managed the village’s finances. It is the village’s policy to maintain reserves equal to at least 75 percent of annual operating expenses and debt service, with the goal of 100 percent of operating expenses and debt service in reserves. The Village has been successful in its efforts to add to or maintain its general fund balance in accordance with this policy objective annually even in light of recent economic challenges. This commitment to maintaining a strong fund balance/level of reserves has helped Lincolnshire maneuver through the economic decline of recent years and positioned it well to plan for the community’s future.
Q: How is the state’s pension crisis affecting Lincolnshire?
A: The biggest impact to Lincolnshire is felt in the timing of receipt of state payments of funds due to the village. The state’s fiscal challenges have resulted in delays in payment from the state of Illinois to Lincolnshire for various state-shared or state-collected revenues such as telecommunications tax, income tax, sales tax, etc.
The two pensions funds in which Lincolnshire employees participate (Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund and Police Pension Fund) are not considered part of the state pension plan. These funds are adequately funded as a result of the prudent management of each respective fund and the commitment of village officials to make the required contributions to maintain their funded status.
Q: What is Lincolnshire doing to promote economic development?
A: This past year, Lincolnshire implemented Economic Development Site Visits to engage representatives of various business sectors in a conversation about the Village’s business climate and what the village can do to improve its relationship with commercial, industrial and office businesses. The village recently kicked off a project to update its economic development plan. The plan was originally developed and approved in 2006 and is in need of updating to reflect current economic realities and conditions. This planning process is currently underway, with village staff and officials hosting a variety of focus groups with community stakeholders and leaders to discuss the village’s economic development plan priorities, goals, and objectives. The first focus group was held on Nov. 1, with community organization representatives participating. The goal of this planning process is to have an updated economic development strategy presented to the Village Board for consideration early in 2013.
Village officials are also actively engaged in the following organizations working to promote economic development within Lincolnshire as well as throughout the region: Visit Lake County (formerly Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau), the Greater Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce and Lake County Partners.
Q: Do you think Lincolnshire is doing a good job conducting its business transparently?
A: Yes. Village meetings are open to the public and accessible. These meetings are broadcast live on cable television and rebroadcast throughout the month. Meeting agendas are posted online well in advance of upcoming meetings, and background information on upcoming meetings is available for public review at the Village Hall, typically several days in advance of the upcoming meeting.
The Village of Lincolnshire has a wealth of information accessible to the public on the village’s website at www.village.lincolnshire.il.us. The public can find information on the village’s financial status through the village’s budget documents and annual financial report. Village staff have recently begun posting bid documents online as well as the results of those public bidding processes. The entire Village Code is available and can be searched online, and the public can find pages and pages of information on Village programs, services, and the organization in general.
As with any local government program or service, there are opportunities to improve. Village staff has recently engaged in a discussion on the types of information that could be hosted on the Village’s website to provide even more information to the public for review and reference.