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Lake Forest Hosts Town Hall Meeting

Finances, capital projects and other initiatives discussed.

The City of Lake Forest held a public town hall meeting on Monday Oct. 29 to give residents an opportunity to share their questions and concerns about the city, and learn more about projects that were in the works.  The meeting was held at Dickinson Hall Senior Center. We’ve included some of the highlights discussed below.

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City Finances

Second Ward Alderman George Pandaleon  kicked off the evening with some great news concerning the finances of the city.

“The city is in phenomenally good financial condition, thanks to the foresight of our staff and administration,” he said.

In his presentation, Pandaleon showed that the city has reduced the number of city employees per 100 households by nearly 25% since 1992, which is reportedly very unusual.

Pandaleon also noted that Moody’s Investors Services had reaffirmed the city’s AAA bond rating.

The only downside to the city’s finances, however, stem from issues in Springfield. Pandaleon explained that the state of Illinois redistributes municipal revenue – such as income tax and sales tax – back to the city, as opposed to those funds being paid directly to the city in the first place.

However, the state of Illinois is behind on those payments, and Pandaleon noted that Illinois currently owes Lake Forest $300-400,000.

“The shenanigans in Springfield are something to behold,” he said.

Capital Projects

Kent Novit, Alderman for Ward One, filled attendees in on the city’s capital projects thus far this year. Since winter is fast approaching, most of this year’s planned projects have already been finished, including replacing the water mains in Basswood, Onwentsia and Tanglewood Court, improving the streetscape at Gloucester Crossing and Settlers Square, and general maintenance such as replacing the sanitary sewer lining and repairing sidewalks.

Novit also confirmed that the first phase of the East Train Station restoration project was complete, which included repairs to the roof and removal of the non-historic overhang. Once funding is secured, the city will begin repairs of the interior.

New Businesses

Susan Kelly told attendees that there have been 25 new businesses in Lake Forest in the last 20 months, with five more businesses opening by early 2013.

One idea mentioned at the strategic planning meeting was a restaurant opening at the beach. No plans are currently in place for this to happen, but many attendees at the meeting were in agreement that they would like to see it.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald ash borer, an invasive species native to Asia and known to be highly destructive to ash trees, was recently found to be extremely common in Lake Forest, and appears to be in every neighborhood. The city is currently in the processing of assessing all trees, but it’s estimated to affect at least 60,000 in the city.

The City of Lake Forest does have homeowner’s info kits available. If you have any questions about emerald ash borer, contact the Parks and Forestry Department at (847) 810-3544 or via email at schwallp@cityoflakeforest.com.

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