The 2018 Genoa State of the City Address, hosted by the Genoa Area Chamber of Commerce, had one major difference from previous years.
In past years, Administrative Consultant Joe Misurelli did a large portion of the presentation. Sadly, Misurelli passed away unexpectedly right before Christmas last year. In his absence, the heads of all the city government departments shared the load by reviewing their sectors’ achievements in 2018 and previewing the year to come.
Before turning the microphone over to his department heads, Mayor Mark Vicary took some time to remember Misurelli.
“He was a visionary, and as an administrator he was always working to make Genoa a better place to be,” said Vicary.
Mayor Vicary announced a new program to honor loved ones by purchasing a leaf on their “Tree of Honor” displayed at City Hall. Proceeds from the leaf sales will go toward purchasing and planting new trees around the community.
Vicary then praised the city government for how they pulled together after the shocking loss of the much-loved and respected Misurelli. He pointed out that they were able to bring forward a qualified replacement for Misurelli within ten days of finding out about his passing. Bill Ganek’s hiring was announced on January 17, 2018.
Administration & Finance Report – Bill Ganek
Much like Mayor Vicary’s introduction, Bill Ganek’s Administration & Finance report addressed the challenges the city faces going forward with a positive and hopeful tone.
Bad news: The city’s tax revenue has increased slightly over the last few years, but only just keeping up with inflation.
Good news: Genoa has been extremely disciplined with their budget and avoided going into debt during the recession. Ganek stated that the Streets & Forestry division has “the most efficient use of personnel [he’s] ever seen.”
Bad news: The city has put off major capital investments in infrastructure in recent years, but now they need about $5.1M to fix “failed” and “very poor” roads and for other street improvements. They will also require $8.8M for water main and sewer improvements.
Good news: They will be repairing the roads and making the needed water and sewer improvements over the next five years.
Bad news: There is about a $2.7M projected shortfall for the street projects and a $2.2M projected shortfall for the water and sewer projects. This means they will likely need to take on some debt to complete these needed repairs/improvements.
Good news: The Government Finance Officer’s Association (GFOA) has recognized Genoa with the “Excellence in Financial Reporting” award for the last 12 years, which could result in an improved bond rating for the city.
Community Development Report – Alyssa Seguss
A planned three-tenant commercial development on the corner of Rt. 72 & Prairie St. has been approved. The proposed tenant on the west end, with a drive-thru, is Dunkin’ Donuts. The developer has only secured a letter of intent as they continue to negotiate the terms of the lease.
When asked after the presentation, Mayor Vicary estimated the likelihood of a Dunkin’ Donuts opening at this location at 70-80%.
Dollar General is constructing a 10,500 sq. ft. building on Rt. 72. The city required “enhanced architectural features,” such as brick, awnings, and landscaping because of the location as the new entrance into town.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) received approval to build a Training Facility on the corner of Walnut St. and Sycamore St., which would be completed over three phases. The facility would bring 20-50 people into town daily.
J6 Polymers has added on nearly 2,500 sq. ft., along with other improvements for a total of over $275,000 investment into their facility
Custom Aluminum added an additional 34,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space. The $1.3M project was the first to qualify under the DeKalb County Enterprise Zone. They also added 25 jobs.
Polar Tech rebuilt a large portion of their facility that was damaged in a fire. The project cost them over $14M.
Camelot Education relocated to Genoa in the vacated Davenport Elementary School building. The alternative school has 90 employees.
A developer approached the city this year with a plan to complete the River Bend “zombie” subdivision, including installation of needed public improvements. If this development is completed, which includes 55+ age-restricted communities, it would increase Genoa’s population by approximately 10%. The city council will be considering this development for approval soon.
Mayor Vicary explained that the 55+ housing would benefit the school district greatly by bringing in property tax revenue with no additional students and expenses to the schools.
Public Works Report – Rich Gentile
New construction projects/purchases in 2018:
- Large equipment storage building – $100,000.
- Three water control valves at the Waste Water Treatment plant – $3500
- New tornado warning siren – $21,000
- Continued work on trail connecting canoe launch to paved path leading to pedestrian bridge
- Seven new speakers for P.A. system on Main Street – $3,721
- Purchased two new 4 x 4 pickup trucks with plows ($60k) and a used aerial truck ($52,400)
- Purchased new Bobcat skid-loader – $60,700
- Riverfront enhancement, including paving canoe launch parking lot – $16,786, paid for by a grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation
- Installation of cement blocks at biosolid storage facility – $8000
- Water main replacement on N. Hill Street – $11,000
- New employee, Luke Pierce, who has a strong background in vehicle maintenance
Looking ahead to 2019
New standby diesel generator for well #4 – $862,300
South Genoa Street water main improvement – $770,000
Police Department Report – Chief Robert Smith
The city had reduced full-time officers from 10 to 7 during recession and they are now trying to build their staff back up to better meet the needs of the community.
- Hired additional full-time officer, Adam Schuring (pictured at right), who went from part-time to full-time
- Hired part-time officer, Robert Barnett, who went from auxiliary to part-time
- Hired three new auxiliary officers: Mikey Semmens, Trevor Owen and Joe Hojnacki
- New School Resource Officer, Victoria Gates (pictured at left)
- New Community Service Officer, Nick Garvey
- Updated their all-terrain vehicle
- Purchased new trailer
At the end of all the Department Reports, Mayor Vicary teased some big things they are working on that he hopes to be able share at next year’s address.
“We have a couple of awesome projects on the horizon,” said Vicary.