Chairman Cronin’s Address to DuPage Business Leaders
Hosted by Chamber630 in conjunction with Choose DuPage and other area Chambers, the annual State of DuPage County luncheon took place on January 10th. At the event, Chairman Cronin addressed an audience of over 200 DuPage business leaders on the County’s efforts to reduce taxes, provide an attractive business climate, and create efficiencies in government, as well as the opportunities 2018 will bring.
Chairman Cronin’s State of the County Address
“I welcome this opportunity because we consider our relationship with the business community central to our success here in DuPage County.
As a small business owner and employer, I know what it takes to bring in business, make payroll and turn on the lights each morning. So together, we understand and embrace the importance of a solid economic development plan to bring business here, retain existing companies and plan for a robust future in which young professionals and business owners are nurtured, fostering their success and growth.
As we take stock at the beginning of this year, let’s “run the numbers” and evaluate how we’re doing. Data tells an important part of our story.
My first bit of news is remarkable, but it will sound very familiar. This year, the County portion of your property tax did not go up. This is the tenth year in a row our portion of the property tax rate has remained flat at $66.9 million dollars. While other counties have tried taxing everything, including a can of pop, our property tax levy remains flat. What makes this remarkable is that when the General Assembly passed the budget this summer, they kept $3.5 million of the funds traditionally returned to DuPage County. Therefore, we asked our departments and countywide elected officials to tighten their belts to meet the new revenue expectations while maintaining service levels our customers, you the taxpayers, have come to expect.
I alluded to the “soda tax” that was so controversial in Cook County. Bear in mind that we’ve kept our property tax rate flat while REDUCING our sales tax a quarter cent. In 2016, the quarter cent portion of the tax that supported the DuPage Water Commission sunset. So, when it comes to growing business here, we want to honestly say we are doing everything we can to create as “low-tax” an environment as we can, within the borders of Illinois.
And that strategy pays off. John Carpenter of Choose DuPage, DuPage County’s economic development organization, reports a wave of new businesses chose to locate here.
Rexnord Corporation re-committed to Downers Grove after a national search for their aerospace headquarters. The company will redevelop its existing site and build an additional 248,000 square-foot facility expected to be completed by 2019.
We have been notified a Hungarian aviation company and Portuguese software company will move their U.S. operations to DuPage County. The County’s international reach is expanding, with more than 800 foreign-owned companies operating in DuPage, representing more than 40 different countries.
And just last month, the American Academy of Pediatrics moved into their new, five-story, 183,000 square-foot office building in Itasca, bringing 455 new jobs to DuPage. Based on the number of added jobs, healthcare is both the largest and fastest-growing industry in DuPage County.
We are thrilled with this progress, but we’re not satisfied to rest on our laurels. We have some exciting new initiatives and plans I’m eager to share.
Late last year, we joined with the College of DuPage and the Village of Glen Ellyn to build on the success our Rev3 Innovation Center. Our new initiative, Innovation DuPage, is a cooperative venture promoting business growth and job creation. Together with our partners, we will guide entrepreneurs, small businesses and new companies on the path to success.
When you head to the polls in March, you’ll see a question on the ballot related to our next big initiative this year. We are asking voters, in an advisory referendum, whether they are in favor of consolidating our DuPage Election Commission and our County Clerk’s office to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars. As you may recall, last spring we made an initial foray passing a bill in the Senate, which later became bogged down in the House during the last hours of the session. This year, with what we hope will be overwhelming voter support, we will pursue new legislation that simply folds election and voter services right into the administrative duties of the County Clerk’s office. This is the model used by most counties in the state of Illinois. Since I took office in 2010, a series of reforms in the Election Commission alone have netted our residents more than $3 million in savings. Our consolidation proposal, we expect, will save us even more money, but more importantly, the goal is to offer one-stop shopping at the DuPage County Clerk’s Office and improve customer service for all residents.
This summer, we will complete the renovation of the former DuPage Juvenile Detention Facility and cut a ribbon on the new consolidated DU-COMM Emergency Dispatch Center. This state-of-the-art public safety center will house the consolidated DU-COMM dispatch center, the County’s Emergency Telephone System Board and our Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Bringing DU-COMM on campus with other County safety experts provides dispatchers optimal space, allows our emergency management services to, again, share resources and provides the County rental revenue for space that was previously vacated.
That’s our approach…collaboration at the local, regional and statewide level. Our Accountability Consolidation and Transparency Initiative is changing the culture and conversation in DuPage government, and is influencing the thinking in our region and state. Last spring, Senate Bill 3 was part of the so-called “grand bargain” that became the basis for the budget compromise. It extended our DuPage model for local government consolidation to all 101 other counties throughout the state.
We think, at more than 7,000 plus units, there’s too much government in the state of Illinois. Our goal has been to reduce footprint of local government, squeezing out value and fostering excellence in customer service for our taxpayers.
I’ve outlined a couple of big ideas and new rocks we plan to move to create an inviting atmosphere for business growth. Our economy is strong with an unemployment rate of 3.9% – the lowest in our region. Even though the General Assembly passed a budget that kept $3.5 million of our DuPage taxpayer dollars, we balanced our county budget and did not raise your taxes, and in fact, we reduced the burden when we could.
If I were an analyst on CNBC I’d tell you I’m “bullish” …or very optimistic about the year ahead. 2018 will bring new opportunities and the ability to explore further partnerships that will move our County even further ahead. I’m grateful to have the support of business leaders like you. I always appreciate the opportunity to talk with you and I welcome your questions and thoughts.”
Chairman Dan Cronin
DuPage County Board