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Intro to the State of the Village from Smiling Toad Productions on Vimeo.
Getty outlines vision to keep Lyons moving forward
in annual State-of-the-Village address
in annual State-of-the-Village address
Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty delivered his 3rd State-of-the-Village Address to a packed audience of more than 300 residents at the Village Hall last week, March 21st saying that Lyons is a “stable community” that is in better shape in terms of finances, services, and leadership than most other communities.
Getty, who was one of the state's youngest mayors elected at age 26 in 2009, said he is honored that residents gave him “a tremendous opportunity and a large amount of trust” that has motivated him to commit himself to his duties.
During the past four years, the improvements have helped Lyons to attract more than 25 new businesses to Lyons such as Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage, D. Thai Restaurant, Maktrans Trucking, Teamsters Union, WingStop, Foundations Dance Center, Picos Tacos, Superior Ambulance and many more.
“I feel there is one thing that stands out in the Village of Lyons throughout my term in office and that is we have Listened. Being a good leader is about being a good listener. We have listened to the residents, the business owners and we have responded accordingly,” Getty said.
In showcasing what he believes are his administration’s successes, Getty acknowledged that “doing your job” is what is expected of government officials.
“I know many of these achievements are the things that I am supposed to do as Village President. It is my job to manage the budget effectively, provide services to their maximum benefit to the residents, to make Lyons safe, to attract new businesses, to strengthen our infra-structure and to insure that Lyons is a Village that is respected by all of the communities in the Chicagoland region,” Getty said.
The overview of services included:
· Resurfacing 15 streets in 3-1/2 years with 3 additional streets scheduled for 2013; Placing 204 tons of asphalt to repair potholes over the last year.
· Launching a new sidewalk replacement program in 2012 more than doubling sidewalk replacements or more than 1,000 new sidewalks squares.
· Trimmed 95 percent of all of the trees in Lyons; Cut down 89 decaying or dead trees; and, removed 123 tree stumps. Planning a new tree planting program and work to remove Ash Trees infected by the Emerald Ash Bore.
· Grading all village alleys on a regular basis and maintain all lawns in the 5 parks in Lyons.
· The Building Department demolished 5 blighted and hazardous buildings.
“New streets, improved sidewalks, and trimming our trees reinforces the sense of pride that every homeowner should feel," Getty said. “We saved thousands of tax dollars by making street lighting repairs in-house, rather than contract the work out to private contractors.”
Getty praised the work of the Police and Fire Departments, noting last year Police responded to more than 12,000 calls for service while the Fire Department responded to more than 1,200 Fire and 1,300 Emergency Medical Calls.
“We recently hired on 6 new Firefighters all who had been state certified level II Firefighters and EMT Certified,” Getty said.
Most importantly, Getty said, all of the services were delivered while tightening the village’s belt and correcting the village’s finances.
“We have restored financial stability,” Getty said, noting that when he was elected, “expenditures were out of control. There was no planning.”
Getty noted that the past administration was notorious for overspending, citing the more than $10 million in cost overruns for the construction of the new Village Hall, totaling $17 million, and driving debt in excess of $30 million through “deficit-spending” and “cost overruns” that resulted in a 15 percent reduction in village resources.
“We turned that around, and paid down our debt more than $5 million,” Getty said.
“We restructured the TIF debt to complete Veteran’s Park and now have the TIF repaying the Village for the costs they incurred. This restructuring eliminated an $800,000 deficit in the General Fund and restored our financial condition."
Getty said his decision to launch the Parks & Recreation Department in 2011 to coordinate Lyons parks, programs, and recreational activities resulted in programs and activities for Lyons children and families.
Finally, Getty noted that Lyons is celebrating its 125th Anniversary this year, commemorated by posters showcasing residents and businesses, and the restoration and display of the 15 foot by 7 foot “Lyons Brewery Painting” that was created in 1898 of the old Mueller’s Brewery that was on Ogden Avenue and the Des Plaines River.
“We took this painting out of storage and had it professionally mounted and encased so it will be here at the Village Hall in the main lobby for all to enjoy for the next 125 years.”
In celebration of Lyons' 125 Year Anniversary, following the State-of-the-Village presentation, officials provided musical entertainment with a 12-piece orchestra, beverages and hors d’oeuvres from The Chew Chew Café for attendees.
Getty said he has worked to also strengthen the Village’s relations with different constituents and regional elected leaders, with the 120-member Business Association, the 165-member Lyons Retirees that was started 3 years ago.
“And we are working closely with our regional elected officials to bring back our share of county and state revenues, including with leaders like State Senator Steve Landek, State Senator Martin Sandoval, Representatives Mike Zalewski and Silvana Tabares,” Getty said.
“I work closely with our County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski and stay in constant contact with Congressman Dan Lipinski to ensure that Lyons and our region receive the grant funds we have earned through our hard work as taxpayers. Bringing money to Lyons from the County, the State, and from the Federal Government is imperative it makes our lives easier as homeowners, as families, and as seniors.”
Attending the address were Village Board Trustees Paul Marchiori, Teresa Echeverria, Ryan Grace, and Pat Alonzi, and Village Administrators including Village Manager Tom Sheahan, Finance Director Dan Denys, Public Works Director Tom Kidon, Police Chief Harley Schinker, Fire Chief Gordon Nord, Building Director John Pierce, and Parks and Recreation Director Frank Torres.
For a copy of the complete speech visit the Village Blog at http://villageoflyons.blogspot.com/ and Friend us on Facebook (link to us from the blog).
FULL SPEECH FROM MAYOR CHRIS GETTY:
Mayor Christopher Getty
State of the Village
Village of Lyons
March 20th, 2013
I - Introduction
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, Board of Trustees, Residents, Friends, Family, Members of our business Community and Village employees.
Thank you very much for joining us this evening,
I welcome all of you to the 2013 State of the Village Address.
Allow me to introduce members of the Village Board:
Trustee Paul Marchiori, Trustee Teresa Echeverria, Trustee Ryan Grace, & Trustee Pat Alonzi
Also, I’d like to recognize the Village Administration:
Village Manager Tom Sheahan, Finance Director Dan Denys, Public Works Director Tom Kidon, Police Chief Harley Schinker, Fire Chief Gordon Nord, Building Director John Pierce, & our Parks and Recreation Director Frank Torres.
It’s an honor to be up here in front of you tonight.
I’d like to discuss our past accomplishments from the previous year and also review many of our achievements we have successfully accomplished over the last 4 years.
I feel there is one thing that stands out in the Village of Lyons, and that is:
We have Listened … Myself, our administration, our trustees, we have listened. Being a good leader is about being a good listener.
& We as a unit have government have listened to the residents, the business owners and we have responded accordingly.
Being an effective public servants is one who listens.
This past year our successes have come from what we began four years ago. What we began together as a community, we are achieving and continuing to improve today.
Lyons is a stable community. Stability brings consistency and the ability to see what is coming before it happens. In the past we were an unstable community and the challenges increased so dramatically the village wasn’t prepared for what lied ahead.
But Lyons is a Stable Community, thanks in a large part to the hard work that all of us have put into together as a community, the residents, the Village Board, the Administrative Staff, the Village Employees, and the many members of our business community.
Stability. Consistency. Moving forward, not backwards. Improving & Finding ways to strengthen our community without increasing costs to taxpayers. These are the core values of success within a strong community and we have these in our Village Board, We have these in our Administration and most of all we have these within us.
Meeting the challenges that face our community requires having a government that is accountable. My commitment is to be accountable and answerable to you, the public. It means being transparent with our government along with being pro-active and responsive.
In doing so, we can provide better and more consistent services to our residents.
In doing so, we can address the needs and concerns of all the different constituencies that make Lyons a richly diverse community for our families, our children, our business community, and especially for our seniors.
Listening to these different constituencies helps bring our community together and unites us so that we can address any challenge.
We listened and we will keep on listening.
I appreciate that many of you have put your trust in me, someone who was only 26 years old when I took office.
I was given a tremendous opportunity and a large amount of trust from the residents and the people of Lyons that I respect and appreciate … and that I hope to continue to use this as powerful motivation to keep me and us moving forward.
I want to continue to serve and I look forward to serving. I enjoy public service. I enjoy providing for others. I enjoy the challenge of continually making Lyons great.
I want to tell you about what I have done as Mayor and Village President because I am proud of what we have done as an administration and what we have achieved.
I know many of these achievements are the things that I am supposed to do as Village President. I recognize that is my job to manage the budget effectively, provide services to their maximum benefit to the residents, to make Lyons safe, to attract new businesses, to strengthen our infra-structure and to insure that Lyons is a Village that is respected by all of the communities in the Chicagoland region.
I also know that we need to always do more. And we need to overcome differences, listen to different voices and views, and come together as a team. That is the real challenge.
II –Accomplished: Public Works
These achievements we should all be proud of and share in because we all helped make this a better Village.
I listened as homeowners told me over and over again that they wanted their neighborhoods improved. I listened when I received complaint after complaint that our streets were in deplorable condition.
Prior administrations did a lot of talk, but we listened and responded by resurfacing 15 streets in 3-1/2 years. We have 3 additional streets planned and scheduled for this year.
That’s 18 streets that have been repaved in the past four years. We’re going to continue to improve streets as we move Lyons forward.
In the Department of Public Works just this year alone we laid 204 tons of asphalt repairing potholes.
& We didn’t stop at the streets, though. Last year we launched a new sidewalk replacement program and we replaced 2-1/2 times what the village would normally do. We replaced more than 1,000 sidewalk squares. And we are going to keep replacing them so that our sidewalks are safe, too.
I listened when people said they want their trees trimmed and removed. It sounds like it’s not important but it is to the homeowners and residents when it comes to the most important investment in their lives, their homes, the property and their neighborhood.
Our Public Works Department along with tree contractors have trimmed 90 to 95 percent of all of the trees in Lyons. We have had to cut down 89 decaying or dead trees, and we have removed 123 tree stumps.
We are working with our regional elected officials to find funds to launch a tree planting program, and to remove the Ash Trees that are infected by the Emerald Ash Bore.
Furthermore in Public Works We are saving thousands of tax dollars by making street lighting repairs in house, rather than contract the work out to private contractors, as what was a past practice.
With improved streets and sidewalks it’s imperative we keep our community clean, we have a daily program to remove garbage and litter from our streets, parks, and public areas.
Our Snow removal in Lyons is Second to None. Public Works department does a fantastic job handling the snow. Additionally, We have a sidewalk plow so that we can clear sidewalks as well as the streets.
We’re also grading all of our alleys on a regular basis and we maintain all of the lawns in our 5 beautiful parks.
New streets, improved sidewalks, and trimming our trees reinforces the sense of pride that every homeowner should share.
We are constantly continuing to improve our water system. We recently met with our local Senators and State Representatives to secure funds to improve our water system.
The Village has targeted the State of Illinois Clean Water initiative which allows Lyons to secure capital for Water Infrastructure.
& In doing so we have commissioned the Village Engineering firm to finalize a Water Main Replacement Priority list to stay on top of the many ageing water mains within Lyons.
We are also continuing to update our wireless Water Meter Reading System to make reading meters as efficient as possible. This has been an ongoing process that should see completion in 2014.
Let’s hear it for the Department of Public Works.
The Lyons Police Department
Now allow me the opportunity to discuss the Police Department. The Police have been very busy as last year alone they responded to over 12,000 calls for service.
The Police department works hard and I think it’s important we acknowledge their hard work and service they provide.
In 2012 we were awarded the Host-Site for the North-East Multi Regional Training Branch of the Illinois Law Enforcement. This award allows us to host regional training seminars within the station and receive training at no cost to our department.
Furthermore, this year when the tragedy broke at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut we immediately dispatched officers to our area Grade Schools to assure our children and their Parents they are safe in Lyons.
You may have seen we have 2 brand new Ford Explorer SUV Police Vehicles that we successfully purchased at no cost to the taxpayers using drug forfeiture funds. A method we will continue to keep our costs down.
Thank you to all who serve with our Police Department.
As far as the The Lyons Fire Department they too have been very busy with calls to service. We responded to over 1,200 Fire Calls and over 1,300 Emergency Medical Calls last year.
We recently hired on 6 new Firefighters all who had been state certified level II Firefighters and EMT Certified.
Our department continues to participate in the 5 town training academy, thus saving Lyons a considerable amount of money when training new hires.
We have successfully completed our Fire Recovery transition and we have begun to receive funds.
Because of our diligent fire hazard inspection service we saw a reduction of over 100 calls to service by the Fire Department.
This year the FCC set forth a mandatory implementation narrow banding all of our radio’s and I’m happy to report the department completed this process by converting 19 portable radios, 12 mobile radios and 2 base radios.
Additionally we targeted a County Grant for 4 additional radios which we were awarded that came at a value of over $28,000 dollars.
The Fire Department also received over $18,000 in grant funds to update and modernize all of the light fixtures within the fire house.
Thank you to the Lyons Fire Department.
The Building Department is doing its fair share as well. They have demolished 5 blighted and hazardous properties. This is not an easy process it takes collaboration between code enforcement, local adjudication, our attorneys, and the court system. With a constant drive and patience we were able to rid the village of these dangerous structures.
This is another example of listening to the residents and responding accordingly.
Many residents have had the unpleasant experience Utility Companies modernizing unground cables and gas lines. Often times these companies rip apart parkway lawns, streets, and driveway aprons.
The Building Department has been diligent in following up with the Utility Companies to get this resolved and properties restored. A great example is Fisherman’s Terrace North of Joliet Road. Nicor Gas ripped up the street and parkway for a 2 block stretch and informed us they would just go back and patch it up.
Director Pierce demanded Nicor cut us a lump sum check. Once the funds were received we went ahead and resurfaced the entire street and restored the parkway.
This will continue as we put our residents first and move Lyons forward.
Over the last 4 years we have attracted more than 25 new businesses, both small and large to come to Lyons.
Such As: Pop’s Italian Beef & Sausage, D. Thai Restaurant, Maktrans Trucking, Teamsters Union, WingStop, Foundations Dance Center, Picos Tacos, Superior Ambulance and many more.
We work to constantly welcome new businesses and help current businesses expand.
Thank you to all the members of the Building Department.
Straightened out our finances
I listened when you said you wanted a government to live within its means. And I believe we have restored financial stability.
When I declared myself a candidate for Mayor; Projects and expenditures were out of control. There was no planning.
This Village Hall project went 10 Million dollars over budget for a final cost of $17 Million dollars.
That kind of mismanagement has severe consequences.
To finance these blunders the answer was to sell our children’s park to make up some of the difference, but when I was elected, I stopped the sale of Smith Park.
Strong finances are essential for providing good and constant services.
It’s easy for me to highlight the mess that I inherited when I took office:
· A Village Hall Project that was $10 Million dollars over budget
· Debt in excess of $30 million
· Deficit spending and borrowing to pay for the cost overruns resulting in 15% reduction in resources.
· Extensive amount unpaid bills, making it difficult to pay salaries and for government services.
· Favorable employee contract extensions that forced spending increases.
· Uncompleted projects that stood as eyesores to the community.
· Deferred maintenance on streets and parkway trees
· Years of deficit spending that depleted our Village reserves to Zero.
· Financial audits with numerous errors.
These problems have plagued the Village for years; they became the Lyons way.
This was just plain reckless.
Rather than wilt under the pressure and simply blame my predecessors for pillaging the Village, I have used my office to force reform of the Village finances.
First and foremost, we restructured the TIF debt to complete Veteran’s Park and now have the TIF repay the Village for the costs they incurred.
This restructuring eliminated an $800,000 deficit in the General Fund and restored our financial condition back to a respectable $1.8 million financial cushion.
We have controlled spending and resisted efforts to needlessly increase staff to unsustainable levels.
We forced layoffs in 2009 to control spending.
We have focused on building maintenance in an environment with increasing challenges due to foreclosures.
Police are on the street patrolling and working to keep neighborhoods safe.
But this is just a start. The following are some of the new initiatives we are pursuing to enhance our financial condition:
· Continue to pay down debt as I have done every year since I have been Elected, $5 Million dollars in 4 years.
· Seek further efficiencies from all departments. We need to focus on providing the services our citizens need, not what was historically done.
· Increase financial reserves. This reduces the need for short term borrowing.
· Enhance pension contributions to reduce the burden that would otherwise be transferred to our children.
· Create a building & vehicle replacement program so that these needs can be met with cash on hand rather than borrowing funds when equipment becomes outdated.
While it’s easy to play the blame game as most others due, I have instead over the last 4 years led the effort to clean up the financial mess.
Going forward, we need to do more.
We have most of the issues behind us, Now we can look to the future.
Financially, in 4 years we have come from being on the brink of bankruptcy to being a Village that is solvent.
I thank our new Finance Team for all the work they have done.
On a very positive note our Village Manager Tom Sheahan has been working diligently with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning to get Lyons a Business Development Plan.
CMAP approved our request for technical assistance in planning development along our business corridor.
As a result, Lyons will receive assistance in long term planning on Ogden Ave., First Ave., and Harlem Ave.
CMAP will work closely with us and our neighbors, McCook, Berwyn, and Riverside to address traffic and public transportation issues.
Parks and Recreation
This year in 2013, Lyons is officially 125 years old as a municipal government and we are very proud of that.
We launched a campaign to promote this by making commemorative posters for residents and business owners and through a partnership with local businesses we are hanging 6 foot banners along the roadways celebrating 125 years of government.
The most impressive item to cherish our History is the Lyons Brewery Painting from 1898. Mueller’s Brewery was on Ogden Avenue in Lyons during the mid to late 1800’s and the Village has had in its possession a 15 foot by 7 foot tall painting from 115 years ago.
We recently took this painting out of storage and had it professionally mounted and encased so it will be here at the village hall in the main lobby for all to enjoy for the next 115 years.
This painting is a great reminder of who we are, where we came from, where we’ve been as a Village.
Two years ago we created the Parks & Recreation Department and gave this department the task of integrating our parks, programs, and recreational activities. With this new mission this department has been very successful in providing programs and services to our residents.
This summer we will see our first ever summer camp for children. We have organized and now provide more programs and activities for our children.
Last September through the Parks and Rec. Dept. we brought the Circus to town and it was a phenomenal success. More than 1,500 people attended and enjoyed the circus entertainment and shows.
Having these activities brings our community together and makes us stronger.
I am proud of what we have done. I pushed for the completion of Veterans Park, now the largest park in our community, and the construction of a concession stand to be finished in time for the Little League’s Opening Day last season.
We have launched our new Parks & Recreation Web Site to help get the word out for all our activities.
Things to look forward to this year: Our partnership with Mustang Youth Football and the start of Flag Football; the first ever Summer Camp; the Annual Father’s Day Car Show; our Fabulous Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks show, Village Sponsored Blood Drives, the Preventative Healthcare events, new classes for expecting parents, and expanded senior programs and trips.
Additionally, through Parks and Rec. we applied for $400,000 in State Funding to renovate William G. Smith Park across the Street and I personally went down to Springfield with our Director make the Presentation to the State Commission.
Thank you to the Parks and Recreation Department.
III - Conclusion
In Conclusion, Listening is about interacting with members of the community, fostering a dialogue, and Building relationships.
This all sounds simple, But is it?
We all have our own lives, our own jobs, our families, and our personal goals. & interacting with one another to Build relationships gets put off or is forgotten about.
But Good solid relationships are the brick and mortar of success. Not just for individuals, but for communities like Lyons.
During the past four years in Lyons, in addition to ensuring that I do what I was elected to do, provide good services and good government, I also have been working to listen and build relationships with Residents, the Business Community and the elected leaders around us.
And it has paid off for us as a community.
We have a hugely successful Business Association with over 120 members and we are unified as a community who come together to get things done.
That’s something you told me … you wanted us to work together.
Moreover, under my term we created the largest and most active civic club in town the Lyons Retirees. The Lyons Retirees is a 165 member club that started 3 years ago and has been hugely successful from working with one another and from building a good solid relationship with the Village.
When I first entered elective office, it was commonplace for officials not to talk to other officials or work with any other groups or boards in town.
One of my first priorities was to unify the village board, this took 2 years and a tuff election. But we prevailed and now we have a strong team running the Village that supports the administrative staff.
Next, I worked hard to restore relations with our regional elected leaders. This was a major issue. We don’t want Lyons to be an island. We want to be a part of the bigger community because Teamwork is what gets things done.
But I believe that we can do far more when we work together, even beyond the borders of Lyons.
That’s why I am proud of the relationship building that we have been doing here in Lyons. I am proud of our close association with leaders like State Senator Steve Landek, State Senator Martin Sandoval, Represenatives Mike Zalewski and Silvana Tabares.
I work closely with our County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski, and consistently stay in touch with Congressman Lipinski to ensure that Lyons and our region receive the grant funds we have earned through our hardwork as taxpayers.
Bringing money to Lyons from the County, the State, and from the Federal Government is imperative it makes our lives easier as homeowners, as families and as seniors.
As Mayor, I am constantly pondering how can we make things better and determine ways that the Village of Lyons can do more for its residents.
In a recent column I wrote for the local newspaper the Des Plaines Valley News, I talked about how there is a relationship between the Blacktop and the Big Top.
Everyone wants new streets and so the Village Board and myself have been persistent in moving in that direction to pave our many streets, as I have outlined.
But many times, the real memories for a small community like Lyons come from things that the “Big Top” brings.
I’m referring to the “Big Top” tent of the Kelly Miller Circus which rolled into Lyons for the first time and thrilled children of all ages at Smith Park.
This is what Parks were made to do. Host events that bring cheer, relief and enjoyment to families.
It was a fantastic community event. It brought Lyons together.
But it’s not all fun and games. Residents expect results.
That’s why the “Blacktop” comes first. And I push, as the Mayor, to constantly achieve these accomplishments and deliver the services that you deserve.
I’d like to note that the Village of Lyons is at pivotal point in time. Over the last 28 years, we have not had a mayor re-elected to a second consecutive term.
That means in nearly three decades, the Lyons community has been continually looking for change. There has been uncertainty.
I believe I can overcome this great hurdle. I believe what we have done together will break that glass ceiling of uncertainty and the programs I have helped fashion will continue for another four years.
I will continue to roll up my sleeves, continue to work hard and, most importantly, I will continue to listen.