27 Dec

St. Charles Year in Review: Top 10 Blog Posts

2012 is coming to a close, so I have decided to do a year-in-review and summarize the top 10 blog posts for the year. This will serve to remind you of the many good (and some great) things that have happened in St. Charles.

In 2012, the City’s reign as the “#1 Town for Families” ended and we graciously passed the crown to Castle Rock, Colorado. Our #1 designation was well-deserved, but that does not mean we rest on our laurels. We have continued to accomplish things to make St. Charles even better.

#10. Credit Cards Accepted for City Utility Bills

City utility customers can now pay charges via credit card. Since implementation in September, transactions have averaged 350 per month. The maximum amount collected in any single month was $60,000.

#9. City trains for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response

During the week of July 9th, City staff and representatives of other local government agencies went to the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) to participate in the Integrated Emergency Management Course (IEMC). The IEMC is a week-long education and training session on community response to disasters or emergencies and short-term recovery issues. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pays the majority of the cost and EMI only offers 15 community specific classes per year, so it is a privilege to participate.

Fire Chief Patrick Mullen, who retired from the City at the end of November, played a major role in securing the City’s participation in IEMC.

#8. Electric Reliability Hits 10-year high

The City of St. Charles electric utility obtained its best reliability performance in 10 years. The average number of minutes a system customer was without power decreased 67% from 2007 (to 35.5 minutes from 108.9 minutes). In addition, the average time to restore an outage fell to 28 minutes.

The values of the City are reflected in the electric utility. The way the City designs and operates the utility is a reflection of the City’s focus on reliable service.  There are many other customer service benefits that we offer, including talking to a person when you call our office or Utility Billing.

#7. Completion of radium removal facility for water system

The City completed the construction of a radium removal facility located on Riverside Avenue, north of Fire Station #1. The facility ensures compliance with federal mandates regarding drinking water produced from Wells 3 & 4 and enhances system capacity. This facility also conditions the water to improve quality.

#6. New Electronics Recycling Program offered

St. Charles residents can dispose of electronic items such as computers, televisions, DVD players, printers, and power tools at the Public Works facility. The new program offers a new way for residents to properly dispose of home electronics, which were banned from landfills in Illinois as of January 1, 2012.

#5. Bob Leonard Riverwalk completed

The Bob Leonard River Walk project was completed, which includes stabilization of the west shoreline of the Fox River and development of a bicycle/pedestrian path that stretches from Illinois Street to the Prairie Street bridge. The Bob Leonard River Walk project is part of the Downtown Strategy Plan, the River Corridor Master Plan, and the Kane County Bike Plan.

#4. Main Street construction

The reconstruction and widening of East Main Street began in April and is on target for a Summer, 2013 completion. The project will reconstruct, widen, and resurface Illinois Route 64 (Main Street/North Avenue) from 7th Avenue near the St. Charles Library to Route 59 in West Chicago. In addition to the roadwork, street lighting, retaining walls, and sidewalks will be installed. Residents can obtain updated information regarding the project from IDOT by clicking here.

While the project has been a headache at times, it hasn’t stopped businesses from opening. Two automobile dealerships opened and the former Baker’s Square location is being redeveloped.

In addition, the construction of the expanded intersection at West Main Street and Oak Street was completed, including widening the intersection to 5 lanes (2 through lanes in each direction, right turn lanes, and a center turn lane) and a traffic signal. The $1.35 million project was completed in September.

#3. Crime rate hits 10-year low

Calls for service for the St. Charles Police Department dropped to the lowest level in 10 years.  Police responded to 16,168 calls for service, a 16% decline from 2008.

The St. Charles Police Department has been recognized by the Commission on Law Enforcement Accreditation (CALEA) with the “Accreditation with Excellence” award, which is presented to law enforcement agencies that display excellence in public safety professionalism.

#2. St. Charles Sustainability Initiative saves $3 million

The St. Charles Sustainability Initiative, developed in 2010 to identify ideas and suggestions to deal with the economic downturn, was a success. In total, the ideas have resulted in over $3 million in cost savings or revenue generation for the City.

The outcomes of the program have paid dividends as the City has been able to hold the Property Tax Levy at the same level for the 5th consecutive year. In addition, citing the City’s prudent management practices during the economic downturn, Moody’s Investors Service recognized the City’s fiscal management in affirming the City’s outstanding Aa1 bond rating.

#1. Red Gate Bridge opens

The long-awaited Red Gate Bridge opened to traffic on Saturday, December 15th, providing the fourth river crossing in the City’s bridge inventory.  The bridge is experiencing higher-than-expected use and motorists are reportedly saving 5-10 minutes or more on trips across the Fox River.

I’ve used this blog as a means to convey important information to residents, businesses, and other St. Charles stakeholders. For those that read the posts, I hope that you find the information valuable. For those that take the time to contact me, I truly appreciate the feedback.

Happy New Year, St. Charles!

I look forward to sharing more good news with you in 2013!