By Bob Balgemann


In the words of Mayor Mike Chamberlain, the city has enjoyed another year of progress, with a responsible and responsive city council setting the course for a successful future.

The mayor delivered an upbeat State of the City address during the Monday, June 6 city council meeting, outlining improvements made in the past year.

One of them dealt with the apparent belief among some that Belvidere was not being a good place for business. That notion has been put to rest with Reboot Illinois.com naming the city No. 6 among 1,268 municipalities in the state when it comes to starting a business.

That announcement was made by Boone County Board member Sherry Giesecke during the board’s May 18 meeting.

A number of new businesses came to town, such as Taco Bell on State Street, while longtime local company Manley Motors opened a new auto dealership on the former Jack Wolf property, also on State Street.

The addition of several gaming establishments is expected to generate $185,000 in revenue during the 2016-17 fiscal year, and there was a significant revitalization of the short stretch of downtown Buchanan Street.

Mayor Chamberlain said long-term economic development prospects have been enhanced by the completion of the final two ramps at the Irene Road interchange on Interstate 90. There also were significant upgrades to the Genoa Road exit, with the western segment of the I-90 rebuild being opened.

Belvidere Park District saw its facilities being expanded with an ice arena and splash pad.

Despite challenges, the mayor said the city continues to be in sound financial condition, under the leadership of budget and finance director Becky Tobin.

Some revenue sources have declined a bit while an error by the state is requiring the city to repay $58,000 in replacement tax over the next two years.

Also, the city must continue relying on the utility tax for public safety operations, to replenish general fund reserves and to pay for road projects.

Still, the city’s most recent audit showed the general fund reserves, or fund balance, to be more than $11 million, a 12 percent increase over 2015-16.

Many thousands of dollars in improvements have been made to the city’s infrastructure by the streets, water and sewer departments, while going another year without any rate increases.

“Our public works folks do a lot with a little,” Mayor Chamberlain said.

The city continues to have outstanding police and fire departments, led by Police Chief Jan Noble and Fire Chief Al Hyser.

Some internal reorganization took place in 2015-16, after the county terminating the longstanding agreement to have a shared planning department with the city. That, joined by the retirement of interim planning director Kathy Miller, led the city to appoint Gina DelRose as its first community development planner.

Overall, the mayor said Belvidere “has become the place to be.”



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