State of the City Address

April 17, 2018

In 2016 I had a vision for Burlington residents and businesses to work and bring our community together to determine what is needed to move forward. As I reflect back on my last tenure of Mayor in the 90's, I worked very closely with the school district. We used the slogan, "It takes a Village".  How true this is, as one person cannot change our City. I strongly feel we are all equal. It takes all individuals to be involved and believe in this path of change.

Our downtown is beginning to thrive once again because of this belief.  Business owners are thinking outside the box and asking “What will draw people to our City?”  From major renovations to improved curb appeal, to business expansions, we are working together and beginning to see the change we have envisioned.

I am known to be very “pro-business”, and although State and Federal regulations can sometimes make it difficult, staff and council are always trying to do what is best and will do whatever we can to welcome new business to the City of Burlington.

First, I will talk about some of the great things our City is currently experiencing. In 2017 the City continued to see growth in our downtown and along our major corridors. New businesses include: The Big R, Planet Fitness, Sugar Bean Café, Mercantile Hall, Salon III, Market Realty, Jimmy Johns, Athletico Physical Therapy, Great Clips, 2 Fancie Gals, The Jewelry Center, and Intents Inflatable Indoor Fun Center. Businesses that have built an addition or have had a major remodel include Thrivent, Life Bridge, Itzen’s, Bon Bon Belle, Platinum Salon & Spa, Bruesewitz Plumbing, Lynch Display Van, Lavelle Industries, Gooseberries, Dominoes, Wal-Mart and Pick N Save.  On the housing side, Fox Crossing Apartments Phase II, Oak Park Place Senior Living Center, Springbrook Townhomes, fourteen (14) single-family homes and four (4) condos were built.  

During my last tenure as Mayor, we created TIF District 3 for development. This TIF was closed on March 20, 2018.  I am thrilled to see the success of this TIF, which includes both commercial and residential growth. The closure of this TIF has generated revenue for the City which could potentially reduce the tax rate for our City taxpayers.

Although there has been a lot of positive activity this past year, there has also been adversity. As you know, on July 12th, 2017 we were faced with a disaster that nobody ever imagined would happen.  Flooding throughout the City and darkness from no power, left property damaged throughout the City, including our own infrastructure.  I can't tell you enough of the pride I have in our community for the resilience and strength shown during such a trying time. Many residents looked beyond their own needs to help others despite their own misfortune. Unfortunately, as a result of this flood, our Council was faced with some very difficult decisions, which isn’t easy in a smaller community.  I know these decisions weighed heavily on our Aldermen and I would like to thank each of them for the time and commitment they have given to our City. I would especially like to thank Alderman Vos, Alderman Johnson, and Alderman Dawidziak as they step down from their positions. It was an honor serving alongside you and I wish you the very best as you prepare for the next adventure in your lives.

Next I will talk about what we are envisioning for our future. Our future continues to look bright.  With Foxconn being the big buzz word around town, Burlington is a prime location due to its proximity to the proposed site, which is a mere 20 mile drive to and from this quaint City.
Staff and Council had already been planning for future economic development growth long before we even knew about Foxconn.  The City may create another TIF along Hwy 83 for the expansion of the Burlington Manufacturing and Office Park, which will bring new business and residential growth. Due to our proactive approach, I feel we will be well prepared as Foxconn continues to bring opportunity for new business and employment.

Council also just recently approved a resolution to adopt an intergovernmental agreement and ground lease between the City of Burlington and the Tri-County Fire and Rescue Association to build a state-of-the-art Training Facility for the training of fire fighters and other first responder personnel. This facility will be located near the Department of Public Works. To build such a facility in our Western Racine area will further place Burlington on the map and put us a step ahead of the ever changing times. It’s also important to know that no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund this. The cost of the facility will be completely funded through donations and fundraisers.

There are also many wonderful and exciting things planned in the City for 2018. The new aquatic center will open in June and will provide many generations of children and families with summer fun and a lifetime of memories. The Memorial Wall located in Echo Park, will soon be displaying the names of 3,000 veterans from the City of Burlington. This winter the City will be hosting the 2018 State Ice Sculpting Championship, which will bring people from all over to visit and explore our City.

Past, present and future, our small City of Burlington continues to thrive. In closing, I thank you all for your part in making this City a wonderful place to call home and for our visitors from all over to enjoy. Once again “it takes a village”.

Mayor, Jeannie Hefty