THE SIGN ON I-55 FOR Route 129 has given city leaders grief ever since IDOT slapped a “closed” sign over Braidwood, but officials say the city is anything but. Mayor Bill Rulien said the city is making strides at attracting businesses and promoting tourism.
Marney Simon Staff writer
There are good things on the horizon for the City of Braidwood, according to Mayor Bill Rulien.
On Feb. 12, the mayor presented the public with an annual "State of the City" address, citing finances, clean up, and promoting local tourism as just a few of the ways that the city is looking to make a comeback.
Rulien started his brief address by noting that the city's general fund deficit has been widdled away to manageable numbers, thanks to cuts, tight budgeting and the reintroduction of funds which had been diverted for 23 years into the city's TIF I district.
"We had a deficit reduction from over $700,000 down to $78,000," Rulien said. "It took a lot of steps to accomplish this, there were some new revenues that came in with the ending of the TIF district."
Rulien said new equipment and handful of fuel efficient vehicles have aided the budget process. Each department contributed to the matter by keeping a close eye on their budgets, and making sure that employees have been properly trained.
"Just watching expenditures... and always watching the money. Everybody pitches in," Rulien noted. Each of the city commissioners have paid close attention to cost savings measures.
In terms of the city's most visible assets, Rulien said crews have spent much of the last year repairing streets and curbs, and picking up the slack from the state.
"We're doing a lot of mowing at state routes, we have to do that because the state doesn't do it anymore," Rulien said. "It does cost us more money, it's just a cost that the state has pushed off on the city by not doing it anymore. We can let the weeds grow up where you can't see around the intersections, or we can cut them. That's the choice. We choose to cut them and make our town look nice and be able to see around things."
The city has also worked on cleaning up abandoned properties within the city limits.
"We did some demolitions on some buildings that were way beyond saving," Rulien said, adding that those properties are also mowed by the city. The city has also gotten more aggressive with code enforcement, but not so much as to present a hardship on homeowners.
"There's been a lot of friendly stuff. We've have people donate materials for people who couldn't afford to fix their properties, to help out those that didn't have the money," Rulien said.
The city worked on in-house issues, such as cleaning and painting city hall with supplies donated from Whitmore's Ace Hardware, and training the workers on the city's administrative side. The city implemented written procedures, which should make operations easier and should help streamline those operations when new administrations come into office.
The city also began an early voting system this year, a plan that was started, Rulien said, by the late mayor Jerry Pressley. Rulien also said the city will continue to make finances available for public inspection.
The mayor had a laundry list of other items that have helped Braidwood grow over the past year. Read all about them by picking up a copy of the Feb. 20 edition of The Braidwood Journal.