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Shorewood State of the Village: Pretty Good

Brock A. Stein | 4/2/2014, 2:39 p.m.
When he first moved to Shorewood from Buffalo, New York in the early 70's, village Mayor Rick Chapman recalled the ...
Shorewood mayor Rick Chapman gives the 2014 State of the Village address at village hall.

When he first moved to Shorewood from Buffalo, New York in the early 70's, village Mayor Rick Chapman recalled the lack of amenities in his new small town home.

"When I first moved here I used to have to go to downtown Joliet to get a box of nails," said Chapman recalling his frequent trips to Barrett Hardware before Home Depot moved in at the corner of Route 59 and Black Road.

For the past 20 years, whether as a trustee or as mayor now for 4 terms, he said that his goal has been to make Shorewood a place where everything a resident needs is within the confines of the municipal limits.

"Shorewood's a place where you should never have to leave," said Chapman during his annual State of the Village address on Thursday night.

"Because we've got everything we need right here."

In 2013, he said, the village moved closer to that goal with plans for road improvements, a new water tower, and new housing construction on the upswing.

Chapman espoused the benefits of a voter-approved 1% sales tax hike in 2010.

He said that the added revenue, about $2.1 million last year, has helped the village improve roadways in addition to paying for added sewage capacity. The sales tax increase will help pay for the $677,000 annual payment the village will make for the next 20 years to pay the City of Joliet for added sewage treatment. The additional money, he said, was also earmarked for adding to the village's then $400,000 yearly road improvement budget. The remainder, he said, would go back to residents in the form of a property tax rebate of which $360,000 has been paid out so far.

With the village taking about 10% of the cut of residents' property tax bill, Chapman said that sales tax, at about 35% of total revenue, is the economic driver for much of the village's services including police, roads, and its robust parks and recreation programs.

"Without sales tax the village couldn't do the things that we do," said Chapman.

As such, he emphasized the importance of the local businesses that contribute to that tax base.

"We can't continue our programs without a healthy business climate," he said.

The mayor keeps in touch with local businesses through monthly "Breakfast with the Mayor" meetings, something he said would continue in 2014.

The village is recouping most of the sales tax from businesses with only two incentive rebates left from some of the large businesses that have set up shop in recent years. At the height of their expansion, he said that the village was rebating about $1 million in sales taxes. "All of the sales tax from top to bottom will come in for services to go back out to you," he told the audience.

All told, the village welcomed 31 new businesses to the village in 2013, and was anticipating new ones this year including an O'Reilly's Auto Parts store in the Home Depot outlot, and expansion of the Alden senior facility, and a new 750,000 square foot expansion of the Heartland warehouse complex near Frontage Road.