SAUK VILLAGE | Village President David Hanks cited themes of "pride and progress" in his "State of the Village" announcement last week, while acknowledging continued financial struggles.
Finances have been a major issue in Sauk Village government and Hanks did not shy away from that fact in the release. He said the village is currently three months behind, on average, in payment to vendors but said that is a reduction from an average of five months behind in the past.
He also discussed the need for village officials to borrow money from the water fund or seek outside sources, like a $500,000 line of credit approved during the December board meeting, to pay the bills. Hanks said state and county financial woes make such moves necessary because state and county revenues are late getting to the village coffers.
"The village remains in debt but we are currently working on ways to reduce the increased debt and searching for ways to address that which has already occurred," Hanks said in the release.
Hanks said volunteerism is on the rise in Sauk Village, which allowed the village to host workshops and seminars for residents as well as establish the neighborhood watch and participate in the National Night Out.
"Those who have ideas that would appeal to more residents are welcome to join or attend committee meetings to promote those ideas," Hanks said.
Hanks leads a Sauk Village economic development team, which he said has focused on retaining current businesses and recruiting new ones. Its biggest success, Hanks said, was a real estate purchase agreement the team facilitated with VHE Il-Sauk, LLC, to purchase and develop a nearly 500,000-square-foot warehouse distribution facility.
He also cited the opening of Title Max, Boost Mobile, Just Phones and H&R Block stores as evidence of progress the team has made.
"Let me reassure you, businesses are looking to Sauk Village again," he said. "This is something that hasn't happened in the last five to six years."
Hanks said the biggest challenges facing Sauk Village in 2014 include union contract negotiations, finding a solution to pension deficit issues and improving water pump stations.
Hanks said home values in the village rose 6.4 percent in 2013 and are expected to rise 0.7 percent more in 2014. He said the code department will focus more on enforcing property maintenance ordinances in the next year.
"This is why you may notice the village administration, committee, commission, police, fire and public works moving throughout your neighborhood," Hanks said. "It will take a joint effort to make your block, your section of town, your street better, safer and more beautiful so that the economy recovers, our own town recovers and our home values recover, as well."
The full text of the release can be found at mayordavidahanks.com or Hanks' Facebook page.