Many good things happened in our City this past year. Here are a few highlights:
- Received project approval and initial site construction began on large-scale developments on the far East Side, including Pheasant Run industrial, and Springsat St. Charles and Charlestowne Lakes residential projects.
- Updated the Sidewalk Café and Façade Improvement programs to support the continued vibrancy of Downtown.
- Assisted new business, including Tractor Supply, Belle Tire, and Pet Suites, as they completed their buildings and opened on the west side.
- The City was successful in attracting a KIA car dealership to the community. It will be located on the former Pheasant Run Resort property, next the new Honda dealership. Car dealerships are big revenue generators for the City, with the average dealership bringing approximately $350,000 in sales tax annually. The car dealership is expecting to open by the end 2023.
- In November 2022, Brown Butter Bakery opened its open doors at 311 N. 2nd Street, the former Honey Baked Ham location. Brown Butter invested a total of $111,552 into the space which included new bathrooms, electrical upgrades, sprinkler system, and a patio for outdoor seating. The business participated in the City’s Building Improvement Grant program and received a grant for $10,000.
- Dimple Donuts will be reopening in early 2023. The business needed to close due the effects of the pandemic and significant water damage to the building. The owner and her partners have invested over $30,000 to revamp the space. The business is participating in the City’s Building Improvement Grant Program and will receive $10,000 to assist bring the building back to code.
- The Finance Department received the GFOA Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Annual Comprehensive Financial Report for fiscal year ended April 30, 2021. This was the 36th consecutive year the City received this award which represents the highest achievement for governmental annual financial reporting.
- The City was able to approve a balanced operating budget for FY 2022-23.
- A Popular Annual Financial Report was created and issued for the first time in two years. The PAFR describes the City’s overall financial condition as of April 30, 2022 in easy-to-understand language and graphics.
- Completed Phase 1 of the 1st Street Plaza Expansion Project. An expansion of the 1st Street Plaza is planned for the grassy area at the southeast corner of Main & 1st streets. Work included making modifications to the existing wall—a remnant of the former Manor Restaurant— and installing a concrete retaining wall along the Fox River to support the plaza expansion. The site is now ready for Phase 2, which will include a new community plaza, permanent closure of 1st Street and many other amenities such as a solar covered pergola.
- Phase 1 of the 7th Ave Creek Master Plan was completed to address flooding in the area. Work included restoring a natural meandering creek, stabilizing streambanks, and upsizing culverts underneath Illinois, Indiana, and South avenues. A walking path was added along the creek between S. 10th Avenue and Indiana Avenue, and native prairie grasses and flowers were planted.
- An expansion of the west side Wastewater Treatment Plant was completed. The plant increases treatment capacity from 700,000 gals/day to 1.05M gals/day, all while continuing to provide wastewater treatment in accordance with regulations and standards.
- The St. Charles Fire Department earned the ISO Class 1 rating for fire protection in June 2022. This is the second time the St. Charles Fire Department has been awarded the highest level of protection rating. The review by the Insurance Services Office covers a multitude of factors in the areas of Fire Department & Performance, Water Supply, and Emergency Communications & Dispatch. Achieving the highest fire protection rating demonstrates the firefighters’ commitment to protecting our community and places St. Charles in the top 1.5% of the fire departments in Illinois.
- The St. Charles Fire Department placed a new 100-ft. aerial ladder truck in service in July. The truck will be in service protecting the community for the next 24 years. It replaces an old ladder truck that was in service since 1997. The apparatus features all LED lights, improved safety characteristics, a newer diesel engine with lower emissions, and better equipment storage.
- 2022 is on track to be the busiest year for the Fire Department. They are on pace to handle more than 5500 calls before year’s end. This will be the largest number of calls managed in history of the Department. One of those calls, the tremendous blaze that consumed a substantial portion of the Pheasant Run Complex, was the largest fire the department faced in City history. Firefighters worked to contain the blaze from spreading and called on the support of two dozen area fire departments for assistance. The St. Charles Fire Department spent three days at the scene until all traces of the flames were completely extinguished. Despite the circumstances, the Department was able to preserve nearly 80% of the complex.
- The Police Department developed a police comfort dog program to facilitate interactions with students, social worker clients, and the community. With the assistance of the Kara Foundation grant funding and Canines for Comfort, the department welcomed Charlie, the City’s first comfort canine.
- The Department also changed the squad car design which will be on new cars as the fleet eventually is replaced.
Securing Future Talent and Creating Efficiencies
- The Human Resources Department partnered with the Public Works and Finance departments to negotiate a four-year agreement with the IBEW Union which represents the Electric Division of Public Works. This collaboration and ultimate agreement saved the City time and money, and enhanced labor relations.
- Transitioned the City’s health insurance from a self-insured model to an insurance cooperative with the strategic goal of addressing stoploss insurance rate increases and providing stable insurance rates for City employees.
- This City has not been immune to the effects of a tight labor market and HR led the recruitment and onboarding efforts for a new Director of Finance and a new Director of Economic Development. HR also worked with an outside consultant to conduct a compensation study focused on external marketability and internal equity, ensuring the City’s competitive edge for top talent in the municipal labor market.
Technology and Digital Services
- The Information Systems Department initiated a project to identify and implement a public engagement platform to provide efficient digital services to residents. Some of the major components of this new platform will include a new City website, a digital public meeting management system, and a utility billing customer portal.
- The department also upgraded all of the servers and data storage hardware that support the software applications essential to the City’s business operations. The upgrade enabled a system performance improvement of 10-15 times over the previous hardware system.