The City of Ottawa has just over 18,000 residents and operates under the Commission form of Government where each of the four commissioners and the mayor have a department that they are in charge of. We operate on an annual budget from May 1st to April 30th.
The City is adopting a new comprehensive plan that will incorporate plans for the I-80 & Rte. 71 interchange and the Rte. 6 and Rte. 23 area along with a new Riverfront where the former Central School was located. The YMCA project will be breaking ground in June on their $24 million project and should spur additional development in the waterfront area. We also have a Riverboat locating near the former Rescue Squad docks. The Sainte Genevieve will provide scenic cruises along the Illinois River offering cocktails and appetizers.
The City will continue efforts to preserve its historic commercial buildings and beautify the downtown. We are planning a long-range commitment to resurface the alleys downtown and, in some areas, relocate utilities underground.
We are also seeing an expansion in residential growth primarily at Heritage Harbor on the East side of town. This past year we had just under $10 mil in residential construction and $7.2 mil in commercial projects.
CITY FINANCES – FY 2021 and FY 2022
The City of Ottawa does not have excessive surpluses, but operates in adherence to its budget, effectively deploying collected revenues and grant funding. The City’s General Corporate Fund (the City’s main operating account) is operating with a balanced budget.
Total budgeted General Fund Revenues for FY 2022 are $18.2 million. Sales Tax Revenues continue to account for an increasing portion of the City’s General Fund tax revenues. When considering all City Funds, Property Taxes account for a larger portion of overall revenues. The Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) which forms the basis of Property Tax revenues is projected to increase this coming year for the seventh consecutive year.
The City has consistently funded each of its employee pension fund obligations by the actuarially recommend amounts. The City’s outstanding debt is significantly below the State imposed limit and all obligations have been paid as agreed.
Ottawa FY 2021 Grants
We received grants associated with COVID-19 totaling $3.6mil
NCAT County wide bus service received $4.5mil
Miscellaneous and road grants totaled $5.8mil
The Ottawa Port District received $9,770,750 to relocate IL Railway switchyard
TOTAL Grants last year were $23,770,591
Despite facing several challenges in 2021, the Ottawa Fire Department was able to accomplish the tasks at hand. Ottawa Fire Fighter Paramedics remained on the frontline battling the COVID pandemic. In 2021 the Ottawa Fire Department responded to 4,154 emergency responses. Requests for EMS ambulance service increased to a record 3,333 calls. Additionally, members of the Ottawa Fire Department participated on specialty teams for MABAS 25. These specialty teams were active throughout the county responding to hazardous material, technical rescue, and water rescue calls.
The Ottawa Fire Department is composed of 18 fire fighters, 6 lieutenants, 3 captains, a records keeper, a deputy chief and chief. These dedicated professionals operate out of two stations that protect the City of Ottawa’s 15.52 square miles. The City has ordered a new $1.5mil tower truck to replace the twenty-five year old truck and expect delivery in May of 2023.
The Ottawa Police Department, comprised of 24 patrol officers, five sergeants, 5 corporals, 2 captains, 1 chief, 15 telecommunicators and 1 IT person, has continued to maintain its long time standing as one of the most professional and progressive law enforcement agencies in the area. This is done, among other things, through the continued support of established, successful programs such as the Peer Jury, aimed at keeping young, first-time offenders out of the juvenile court system, and programs such as the Ottawa Police Department’s Child Abduction Response (CART) Team, intended to create quick, structured investigative and search process meant to bring endangered children home safely. The Ottawa Police Department has trained each member in CIT (crisis intervention) which better equips officers in dealing with the mentally ill. The Ottawa Police Department prides itself in working with and educating the community such as offering education identity theft/fraud to those who are in high-risk groups such as long-term care facilities.
Public Works Administration
2021 Streets program resurfaced 23 blocks of streets, 31 alleys and three parking lots totaling just under $2mil
We built a $3.7 million Water Main Extension to service the Illinois Route 71 & I-80 corridor, Sanitary sewer had already been extended to the area. We are anticipating renewed interest in the area now that City services are available.
We are planning 2022 Water Main Replacements. The total construction cost has been estimated at approximately $1.4 million. Engineering design has been completed with bidding and construction expected for late spring of 2022.
An emergency stand by generator has been designed for installation at the water treatment plant. The generator will provide power to the water plant during power outages. The generator is currently in production and expected to be installed in the spring of 2022 at a total cost of $85,695.00.
The Wastewater/CSO Long Term Control Plan will require approximately $10 million investments in order to comply with the USEPA agreement to separate the combined sewer system. Sanitary
Sewer Lining which requires very little excavation has been used the last several years and we continue to design and construct the Sewer Separation on Various Streets
We plan to spend $940,000 on our Parks this summer including the Thornton Park upgrades and splash pad along with Allen Park Sea Wall Repairs. We opened the I & M Canal Rewatering Project last year and ran into a few issues that should be corrected this year once we get the permits from the State to complete the project. We have invested $1.3 million so far and will need to spend approximately $300,000 to finish the project.
We continue to expand our Parks and Open Spaces. Dayton Bluffs is 250 acres along Rte. 71 which has several trails and a scenic view of the Fox River. Nell’s Woodlands is a 56-acre public/private partnership located on north Route 23 which will provide space for teaching the Arts, Health (Mental & Physical) and the environment. Nells is a privately funded project by a former resident in honor of his grandmother. We are also in the planning stages of an additional 100 acres of property along the Illinois River (Harpers Farm) will be restored by the Conservation Foundation which has done a fantastic job at Dayton Bluffs. The Ottawa Soccer Club will also be constructing a new Soccer venue at Harpers Farm for the 400 children in the program. We also plan to build a new swimming pool at the current site and hope to have it completed for the 2023 Summer estimated to cost $5million.
North Central Area Transit (NCAT)
NCAT provides demand-response, door-to-door public bus transportation for the County of LaSalle, Monday through Friday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. There are no limitations or eligibility requirements for who can use NCAT. All NCAT’s vehicles are lift-equipped, making the fleet of 31 buses and vans ADA accessible. NCAT is proud to be LaSalle County’s safest and most economical transit provider.
Even though COVID-19 continued to impact our communities, NCAT saw a slow but steady increase in ridership over the past year as people began to get back to their daily activities. To date, NCAT has provided 31,625 rides with medical trips at 40% and employment at 29%. We expect to see this increase continue. NCAT currently provides rides to Peoria twice a month, and last summer, NCAT began providing transportation to Morris. NCAT will be debuting the Rider Portal very soon. This program allows riders to request trips through a mobile app or computer. You can find more information about NCAT or how to schedule a ride by visiting www.ridencat.com or calling 833-433-6228.
In addition to providing entertainment for Ottawa residents and people throughout the Illinois Valley, one of the most effective means of marketing Ottawa, especially downtown Ottawa, has been the festivals which attract and introduce new visitors to area.
Special Events Committee
The Special Events committee will be sponsoring the Music in the Park on nine Saturdays beginning June 25th through the summer 6:00 – 8:00. They also provide up to $500 for local businesses to have bands downtown during the summer. They will also have funding to support ten family friendly events throughout the summer
There are a number of events being planned throughout the year and I will highlight a few of the popular events:
May 13, 2022 – Community Outdoor Movie Night (Sprinkle Kindness-Sherri Countryman)
100 block of W. Jackson Street from 5-10:30 P.M. Hours starting at dark
May 14, 2022 – Starved Rock Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K (Run Starved Rock Country-Robb Hasty)
May 15, 2022 – Kites in Flight
Heritage Harbor from 10:00 A.M. – 3 P.M. Chicago Kites will be putting on a demonstration – Family friendly free entertainment
May 30, 2022 – Memorial Day Ceremonies (Ottawa Memorial Association-Jean Firlik)
Washington Square Park from 9-11:30 A.M.
June 3, 4 & 5, 2022 – Ottawa 2 Rivers Wine Fest (Floret Events LLC-Stephanie Stacy)
Jordan Block lawn area, Hours Friday 5-9 P.M. Saturday 12-9 P.M. Sunday 12-4 P.M.
June 11, 2022 – Family Pride Fest & Pet Parade (Prairie Fox Books-Dylan Conmy)
Washington Square Park & Jordan Block lawn area from Hours 10 A.M.-5 P.M.
June 15-18, 2022 – Carnival (Ottawa Lions Club-Bryan Baldwin)
Upper (East) & Lower (West) Parking Lots by Veterans Memorial Bridge from June 15-18
June 17, 2022 – Cruise Night (LaSalle County Cruisers’ Car Club-Mike Dougherty)
Downtown Ottawa 4 P.M. 10 P.M.
Independence Day July 4th falls on a Monday and Ottawa First and the City will be planning another spectacular show from Ottawa High School.
August 5-7, 2022 – Ottawa Friendship Days Craft and Vendor Show (Cathy Sarosinski) Art in the Park (Ottawa Art League) August 6, 2022 – Car Show (LaSalle County Cruisers’ Car Club)
August 7, 2022 – Touch A Truck (Illinois Valley Labor Management)
old Central School lawn area from 10 A.M. -5 P.M. Hours 11 A.M.-4 P.M.
August 13, 2022 – Children’s Business Fair (Prairie Fox Books-Dylan Conmy)
Washington Square Park from 7:30 A.M.-3: P.M. Hours 10 A.M.-2 P.M.
Festival of the Arts is being planned now for Labor Day weekend for downtown Ottawa
Chris Kringle Markets will once again be held in downtown Ottawa in the Jordan Block and Washington Park. The market will start the Friday after Thanksgiving and run four weekends ending on December 17th
The City’s goals for next year are:
- Start construction on the new YMCA
- Riverfront development. We have applied for a grant to construct an outdoor amphitheater on the former central school site.
- In Allen Park – repair the riverfront, replace the road and construct walking and biking paths along the river.
- We need to complete the water project at the Illinois and Michigan Canal
- Finalize the agreement with Nells Woodlands.
- Work with the Conservation Foundation for expansion at Harpers Farm including the new Soccer fields.
- Construct a new swimming Pool estimated to cost $5 million.
- Design a second waste water treatment plant on East side of town.
- Raise Green Street out of the Flood Plain.
- Work with the Port District and Illinois Rail to relocate the switchyard and eliminate train blockages of Columbus and Champlain Streets.
Thank you all for your patience.