Grundy County Chairman’s Progress Update
Chris Balkema ● email@example.com ● (815) 641-0086
September / October 2023
- Historically, the Grundy County Board has been friendly to folks that request special permits to construct solar panels on their land. Over 20 permits have been approved within the past 6 years. At the September full board meeting, a special permit request for a 980 acre solar farm in Norman Township was denied. This was the first solar farm that had major opposition from people living in the area.
- This request initiated a lot of research on solar farms, from all aspects and angles, over the past 3 months. It is always better to have more data than less.
- As a result of new technologies and incentives flowing from the state and federal governments, it has become apparent that we need to update our Grundy County Comprehensive Plan. Updating this plan will ensure that we have an excellent land use plan in place for all of Grundy County. We are putting plans in place to complete this objective.
June / July / August 2023
- The Grundy County Liquor Control Ordinance was updated and can be found here. The overall goal is to ensure that our residents remain safe at all times within the establishments. The new ordinance gives the sheriff’s department emergency authority to temporarily close a bar if conditions become unsafe. Special thanks to Sheriff Ken Briley and his team for providing valuable input as this ordinance was updated.
- The Grundy County Chamber of Commerce held “Coffee & Company” gathering at our administration building this past week. The event was well attended, and we were able to review our plans for the new health department that we are planning to build without going into debt.
- We are working hard on the 2024 budget that we will vote to place on file in October and pass in November. Like we have done in the past, we will pass a balanced budget that drives the maximum level of efficiency while providing the highest quality level of services throughout the county.
March / April / May 2023
- We are very excited to move forward with the plan to ensure adequate space through the year 2050 for Grundy County. The first phase is to provide the Health Department with enough room to meet the community needs for young children through seniors. The second phase will include a renovation of the existing administration building to ensure all non-judicial areas can be fit in one location that is easily accessible to the public. This allows all areas, within the judicial branch, to be properly located inside our Historic Grundy County Courthouse.
- Our goal is to make these changes without borrowing any money and continuing to pay off our existing debt.
- We not only continue to balance our budget each year, while lowering our levy to the taxpayers, but also have been saving a small portion along the way to be pay for the building projects without borrowing!
- If we can do this at the county level, it can be done at the state and federal level as well.
January / February 2023
- We had the 2022 audit report presented at full board meeting on February 14. Bottom line is that we passed with flying colors. I’m very thankful to the staff for all of their hard work throughout the year that allowed us to be in such a favorable position. Being transparent with our processes and following all auditor suggestions help us continue to build trust with the public.
- Elected officials, Department heads and the county board members work hard to share information throughout areas of the county that enable the streamlining of processes and allow the highest level of services to be provided to our residents. Approaching our jobs with a servant mindset allows us to focus on how we can help each other verses focusing on ourselves. Putting ourselves in our peer’s shoes demonstrates a high level of emotional intelligence as we go out of our way to serve our customers, employees and the public.
November / December 2022
- I’m very appreciative of my peers giving me the opportunity to continue serving as chairman of the Grundy County Board and I’m also thankful to have Drew Muffler as Vice chairman.
- We currently have a wonderful set of circumstances within the county:
- Our financial position is extremely stable and we have been able to, for the 4th time in a row, lower the dollar amount of property taxes that we ask from residents and businesses!
- We have excellent administration, board members and elected officials that partner together very well for the benefit of the county.
- The last census indicated that Grundy County has grown in population over the last 10 years – the reverse is happening in many other counties in Illinois.
- We have the opportunity to become debt free, within 5 years, while constructing a new health building and creating enough space for next 25 years.
- 5 new county board members were sworn in this past Monday evening along with the 13 incumbent members. The entire team is energize and ready to continue executing our mission statement: Delivering high quality services to the residents in the most efficient manner possible.
- We look forward to serving the people of Grundy County in 2023!
September / October 2022
- I covered this topic before but the longer I am in this role, the greater my conviction on this subject becomes. Here goes:
- All human beings are created with a variety of differences, interests, skills and abilities. There are common threads of similarities woven together through each of us that can enhance joy, satisfaction, peace, unity and trust. One thread of commonality is that we all desire some level of structure and predictability.
- The Grundy County Board, elected officials, leaders and staff are working hard to build structure and processes that are predictable and deliver desired results to our residents / customers.
- Regardless of political affiliation, the Grundy County Board works very well together to serve the community by establishing and then executing polices through our committee and full board meetings. We work hard to create an environment that is predictable for our employees, leaders and board members. This predictable environment includes minimizing surprises on spending and staffing which allows a month over month, year over year agenda that is agreed upon and understood by all.
- The goal of our local Grundy County Government Entity is not to push everyone to a common way of thinking or force us into one box but, instead, to capitalize on the creativity of each person that can enhance life while having a bedrock foundation of stability throughout our structures and processes.
- Again, if this can be done at the local level, I am very convinced that it can be replicated at state levels and our federal level which will help unify our nation while highlighting the wonderful differences found in each one of us.
- For the 4th straight year, we are ready to pass a budget (2023) that requests less money from Grundy County Property Tax Payers. While Grundy County is a small line item on your property tax bill, compared to schools and other entities, it sets the example of across the board property tax reduction that is needed in Illinois to make our stated competitive with many other states throughout our nation.
- Please feel free to reach out to me with opinions, comments or any questions at 815-641-0086 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for taking the time to read these updates.
- The world needs peace. We have a great opportunity, in local government, to be a catalyst for peace. We can work hard to serve our residents and go out of our way to make those that interact with us feel valued and significant. The Grundy County Board, Grundy County Elected Officials and our staff do a great job of working cohesively together to provide services that help our customers accomplish their objectives. I am proud of our team and am thrilled that we can make positive contributions in our local area.
- If 18 board members, 7 elected officials and 200+ employees, in Grundy County, can work well together and provide excellent services in the most efficient manner, then I’m convinced this can be done at the state and federal levels as well.
March / July 2022
- The leadership team and the county board have partnered together to ensure that we are being wise stewards of the ARP money awarded to the county from the federal government. Approximately 45% of the money has been allocated to specific projects that benefit Grundy County residents including new 911 equipment and lifesaving devices for fire departments. Monetary assistance was also provided to 12 non profit groups including the Pregnancy Resource Center, We Care of Grundy County and the ATLB Animal Rescue.
- The Finance team approved the plan that our finance director, Matt Melvin, established that eliminates the need to sell bonds to fund our insurance trust fund. This will save tax payers millions of dollars in interest over a number of years going forward.
- We are working hard on developing the 2023 budget with the elected officials and department heads. There is a great spirit of cooperation and partnership across all areas of the county as the numbers are rolled together. To ensure that we keep a long range perspective, a 5 year budget projection is being developed in parallel with the 2023 plan. This will allow the team to review “what if” scenarios to determine how the finances would look based on interest rates, overall economy status and revenue increase / decrease based on commercial property growth.
January / February 2022
- Congratulations to George Gray on his retirement. George did a wonderful job building a wonderful Grundy County team during his tenure as County Administrator. George will be missed but I am glad that he and his wife have well deserved time to spend with their family and friends. George leaves a great legacy for us to build upon in the years to come.
- Fear and anxiety can rob us of our overall health. The impact of the last two years has left us more lonely and isolated than ever before. I am proud of our Grundy County Health Department and all of the hard work that they do to assist our residents from health perspectives. It is important for us to reach out to those, within our circle of family and friends, to maintain and grow relationships while offering assistance when needed. We, as human beings, were not created to be in isolation but to be part of communities with engaged friends, family and colleagues. I look forward to seeing us 100% reconnected with a renewed, intentional focus on building relationships with those around us.
- The Grundy County Administration and our board are focused on properly allocating funds received from the federal government as part of their COVID relief distribution. We are using dollars on approved internal capital projects that will provide additional property tax relief for our residents. We are also working on distributing a portion to our local fire departments and nonprofit organizations that positively impact our residents in many different ways. As we finalize the list of projects, please reach out to Matt Melvin if there are any other projects that should be considered.
November / December 2021
- Once again, the full board approved a levy that requests less money from the taxpayers that the previous year. This was accomplished while making staffing additions that were required as a result of unfunded mandates from the state level. Elected leaders and county staff did a fantastic job increasing process efficiencies to ensure that organization is streamlined while the public is served to the highest degree.
- The County has developed a plan to self-fund the Grundy County Self-Insurance Trust. By avoiding the past practice of selling bonds to fund the Insurance Trust, we are able to avoid the need of levying to pay interests on those bonds – directly reduce property taxes.
- We are pleased to utilize American Rescue Federal Funding to finance a new CAD / RMS communication system for the Grundy County Emergency Telephone (ETS) team. This project will allow the 911 team to provide professional, rapid, convenient and customer focused access to public safety services for our citizens and partner agencies. I’m proud of the partnership that we have built between the Grundy County Board and the Grundy County ETS team.
September / October 2021
- The Grundy County Board passed an updated Reapportionment Map that fulfills the state requirement in the fairest way possible. The specific state language states, “WHEREAS, Illinois Statute 55ILCS 5/2-3001 et. seq. requires the County Board to redistrict the County so that each district represents and is residence to an equal number of inhabitants as closely as practicably possible…” This map CLICK HERE TO VIEW MAP represents how maps are supposed to be drawn that are fair and in line with voter expectations. By reviewing the standard deviations of population levels in all 3 districts, it is clear that there is no gerrymandering built into the map. I’m proud of the staff and board working together to draw and pass a commonsense map for Grundy County.
- At the October Meeting, the Grundy County Board placed a 2022 budget on file with a lower tax levy ($5,210,000) than was requested from the citizens in 2019 ($5,404,087). I am very thankful to the elected officials and the Grundy County administration that drove increased efficiencies throughout our organization over the last 4 years. We hope to pass this budget at the November 2021 meeting which will ensure that Grundy County does its part to reduce property taxes to our constituents.
- The 2020 census showed the Grundy County population increased, over the last 10 years, unlike many other Illinois counties which saw a decrease in population over the last 10 years. Population growth, along with unfunded mandates, has driven increased workloads throughout many departments in the county. We successfully added the necessary staff, to accommodate this additional workload, without increasing the property tax request to our residents. Fantastic partnerships between all areas of the county allowed us to increase necessary staff without increasing property taxes.
July / August 2021
- Grundy County, like most other counties in the country, has received a federal grant that is designed to reimburse the country for revenue losses due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our administration is working to understand the federal guidelines and will ensure that the we adhere to them while using the money wisely. At the end of the day, this money comes from our federal tax base or it is issued by the government as additional monetary supply – the ramifications of either path stretch far and wide. More information will be shared in the upcoming months and at our public meetings.
- I am very pleased that COVID restrictions have been loosened and I look forward to the day when we are 100% reopened. As previously stated, people in the United States have a choice as to whether or not they want the vaccine and each person should make that decision on their own without feeling unnecessary pressure from others.
- We are in the process of rolling up the first round of the 2022 budget. Some departmental expenses are up and others are flat. The good news is that a few are down! We have a multiyear track record of reducing property taxes and I want the trend to continue. I appreciate all department heads and elected officials working together to reduce the number of property tax dollars that are needed from each resident.
- The updated Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidance indicates that those who receive a COVID Vaccine have high chances of being immunized from the virus. It is wonderful that almost everyone (age 12 and over) has ample opportunity to get the vaccine, if they so choose. As a result, people should be able to make their own choice as to whether or not they wear a mask and continue to social distance. If a person chooses not to get the vaccine or take additional precautionary measures, they make those choices at their own risk. Since a highly effective COVID vaccine is now available, the COVID mandidates & requirements need to go away.
- I had the opportunity to attend a drug court graduation for two individuals that had been in the program for over 2 years. It was very encouraging to see how these 2 folks worked hard, invested in the program, and were now able to move on in life with many possibles on new directions. Please take time to reach out to those around you who might be struggling with addictions that could lead them down a dark path. I am thankful for the Grundy County Drug Court and the Grundy County Mental Health Court. These teams work very hard to provide people opportunities to make choices that will improve their life and keep them out of prison.
- The Grundy County Department Leaders and Elected Officials are developing their 2022 budgets. I am looking forward to another year where we can see a Grundy County Property Tax Reduction.
March / April 2021
- I’m excited to share that we have approved our Mission Statement, Goals and objectives at the April full board meeting. The Mission of the Grundy County Board is to deliver high quality countywide services in the most efficient manner possible.
- Our goals are as follows:
1) Focus on Safety & Quality of Life Improvements for Employees and Residents2) Continue to Reduce Grundy County Property Tax Rate
3) Make Grundy County a Welcoming Place to Conduct Business
4) Increase Efficiency & Improve Quality Levels Across all Areas
5) Review the 2015 Comprehensive Plan
- The team has approximately 75 action items and objectives that they are working on which support our mission statement and goals. Having the overall vision and goals will allow our county to stay aligned and ensure that we are all moving the same direction.
* Mack and Associates presented the Fiscal Year 2020 Audit for Grundy County. I am happy to report that we had no findings and only 4 comments in the management letter! Years ago, the county would have had many findings and comments lasting several pages. This is fantastic progress and illustrates that hard work by Matt Melvin, George Gray and many other leaders that have worked together to put excellent financial controls in place. I’m thankful for the transparency that we have inside our local government. Attached is a link to our audit: https://www.grundycountyil.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audit-2020.pdf (https://www.grundycountyil.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Audit-2020.pdf) .
* Two of our committees reviewed an opportunity for inmates in our jail entitled “The 2nd Opportunity Program”. The program coaches incarcerated persons on personal finance topics such as opening bank accounts, filing taxes, budgeting as well as other life skills. Our staff is researching the availability of grants to fund this project and our Full Board will review in March. I am excited to provide opportunities to those who have made bad choices but are coachable and willing to make efforts to turn their lives in a positive direction.
* As previously mentioned, my word for 2021 is unity. As I look around at our local community, I see many opportunities for us to come together and concentrate on making 2021 better than 2020 by focusing on those who are hurting and need help. One example, of how generous people are, is the overwhelming response that our Grundy County Health Department had when they asked for qualified volunteers to assist in administering COVID Vaccines. Sometimes I get way too focused on my own life and I working on doing better at reaching out to those in need.
December 2020 & January 2021
* I was extremely happy to pass lower levy dollar amounts for the 3rd year in a row. We are driving continuous improvement throughout the county and the result is increased efficiency across the organization. Just like large and small businesses do, we focus on improving customer service and raising the bar on quality while accomplishing the work at a lower cost. If anyone has suggestions for process improvements, please let me know.
* Our new board and committee structure has been approved and is available at this link: https://www.grundycountyil.gov/board-committees-2/ (https://www.grundycountyil.gov/board-committees-2/) . There is a tremendous amount of talent and knowledge on the board. Each person is focused on doing what is best for Grundy County and the residents. Please join me in welcoming Drew Muffler as our Vice Chairman of the board. Drew is very energetic and a joy to be around. He will do a wonderful job in this new role.
* My word for the 2021 year is Unity. After 4 years on the job as Chairman, I see the power of unity – having everyone work together for the good of our Constitution and for the people. Since we continue to do this so well at the local level, my expectation is that it can be done at the Illinois State Level as well as the Federal Level. We need to take every opportunity, in 2021, to go out of our way to promote and endorse unity while standing on the firm principles of our Constitution.
October and November 2020
* Vice Chairman Don Hansen passed away after a long battle with cancer. Don always had a smile on his face and was a joy to be around. We will miss Don’s fantastic leadership and his enthusiasm for Grundy County. Please keep his wife, Linda, his four children as well as the entire family in your prayers.
* Lana Phillips and Jim Ryan will leave the board at the end of this term. Lana’s cumulative service to Grundy County totals dedicated 47 years. Her previous knowledge as County Clerk was instrumental as she served on the board. Jim Ryan brought a wealth of professional knowledge to the board. He did a wonderful job as Chairman of the Law & Justice Committee. I am very thankful for Lana and Jim’s service to Grundy County.
* I would like to welcome Cody Mulac to the board. Cody was nominated, through the statutory process to replace Ken Iverson who moved to Colorado last month. Cody will serve the duration of Ken’s term that goes through November of 2022. We look forward to working with Cody.
* I am so proud of our employees, department heads and elected officials that have worked together on the 2021 budget. As a result of the partnership, we are able to reduce taxes by over $100,000! While this is a small percentage of total budget, we are directionally correct by continuing to reduce the levy on a year over year basis. Here is the link to our new budget:
* I am pleased to introduce Melissa Lewis as our new Animal Control Director. Melissa brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership experience that will have a positive impact on Grundy County. Melissa, along with our current animal control employees, will work hard to ensure that we have a customer friendly, transparent organization for all pets and their owners.
* It is only September but it feels like we have had a long 2020 already due to COVID. I am very appreciative of our Grundy County Health Department and the hard work they are doing to keep our residents safe. I am in full support of continuing to open up the county and ensure that all children quickly return to the classroom. It is no longer necessary to quarantine the healthy folks in our communities. We were not designed to remain in isolation but, instead, to have fellowship and connections with each other.
* Congratulations to the new leaders that were appointed to the Grundy County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) last month. Grundy County Sheriff Ken Briley, County Board Member Jake Olson and Morris Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Wilson joined board after a unanimous vote at the August full county board meeting. The goal is to ensure that the board is comprised of organizational leaders that benefit from the services provided by the ETSB. I am thankful for the willingness of these three leaders to serve in such an important capacity within our community.
* We are very pleased with the performance of our Assessor’s department. Deb Ritke is our new Supervisor of Assessments and she is doing a great job. The plan is to have the 2020 assessments sent out during the September timeframe which is significantly earlier than last year. This will allow residents, who choose to appeal their assessment, much more time than they had during the 2019 cycle. Our goal is to have a transparent, customer friendly Assessor Department for our Grundy County property owners to utilize for their needs.
* I’m thankful for our state and local leaders working hard to keep us safe through the balance of COVID situation. While I’m thrilled that Illinois is now broken up into 11 regions as opposed to 4, there seems to be lots of reactive guidance coming from state making it hard for our schools and businesses to proactively develop and maintain a plan to get kids in classroom & businesses to stay open. I’ve put inquiry into Governor’s office to see if there’s a way to keep safety as #1 priority while balancing all of the info that is flowing downhill to counties. ￼Sometimes the data is hard to interpret / manage. I’m also open to thoughts from the community on how we can handle best handle this situation.￼￼ Please feel free to contact me at 815-641-0086 or email@example.com
* I am pleased to announce that Deb Ritke has accepted the position of Grundy County Supervisor of Assessments. Deb brings multiple years of experience in the field and has held many positions inside the assessor’s office. We look forward to partnering with Deb and her team to build trust and ensure transparency with the public. Each property owner deserves to understand the assessment process and what their options are throughout each step.
* Our finance manager is forecasting a $500K to $750K drop in general fund revenue resulting from the COVID pandemic. All department heads and elected officials are working together to understand how they can reduce costs during the 2021 budget planning process. I would like to continue our multiyear trend of reducing the general fund levy to tax payers.
* The Grundy County Board had the important responsibility of appointing individuals to multiple boards including but not limited to fire districts, drainage districts and the Emergency Telephone System Board. The team takes this responsibility very seriously and weighs all aspects throughly during the nomination process.
* Special thanks to the Reopen Grundy County Task Force that has been meeting regularly and investing many hours in the process. The current statistics are located on our website at this location. https://www.grundycountyil.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Grundy-County-COVID-19-Statistics-12-1-2020.pdf. Grundy county is ahead of the recovery curve, from a data perspective, since we have less than a 5% positive COVID test rate.
* I supported the state and federal response to the COVID outbreak in February and March as we did not know how serious the outbreak would be. We now have much more data and understand the parameters of the virus. Most would agree that quarantining people that are sick is very logical. However, the state has never asked that healthy people be quarantined for this long and it is time for this to end. Our businesses and organizations are ready to safely reopen and we are anxiously awaiting the guidelines of what Phase 4 will look like. We have necessary precautionary measures in place and it is time that we move forward with reopening Grundy County in its entirety.
* Fear can paralyze us, if we allow it. There is much that we can fear in our current situation. Instead, we need to have faith in the facts and data that enable us to make the best decisions for our lives. Our local Grundy County leaders are working hard to provide stability and peace throughout our fantastic community.
April and May 2020
* I’m thankful for everyone’s cooperation, over the last 8 weeks, as we have navigated the COVID situation. As stated millions of times, this is an unprecedented time. However, this situation has allowed us to pull together, as a team, to a higher degree that ever before. We held a daily department head and elected official call for several weeks to ensure that information was shared quickly and efficiently. Those daily calls moved to every other day and finally down to once a week as processes have stabilized. We plan to continue weekly updates throughout the month of May.
* Fear of the unknown aspects of this virus have been a significant driver for many of us around the world. As we learn more about the virus and apply that knowledge to existing microbiology fundamentals, we now have a more rounded picture of how to deal with this virus within the context of this and other illnesses such as the common flu. I am of the opinion that we need to help those vulnerable to the virus stay safe and while reopening the economies allowing people to go back to work. The idea of keeping Illinois and other economies closed for longer periods of time is adversely impact our emotional, physical and financial health.
* I’m thankful to our Grundy County Health department for their excellent guidance and I know they will continue to do a wonderful job reaching those in our community. Please join me in prayer for our community asking for a solution to be found for the virus and a return to our normal sense of community. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815-641-0876.
- Safety is our number 1 priority. Please adhere to all local, state and federal guidelines that emerge regarding the coronavirus as well as all other health concerns. During uncertain times, it is important to know what our anchors are in our lives as well as understanding the opportunities to help those around us. Each of us has the opportunity to play a role in preventing the spread of illness. I am looking forward to summer where we can all be outside in the fresh air!
- I really appreciate the great work that our financial analyst, Matt Melvin, has been doing to reduce costs throughout the county. The board has approved projects, initiated by Matt, that will save the county large amounts of money every year going forward.
- It is hard to believe that 2021 is coming upon us quickly and Grundy County is already in the process of establishing the 2021 budget as well as refreshing the 5 year capital plan. Thorough planning, clear communications and great partnerships with each department head and elected official are the ingredients for financial stability throughout the organization.
- Special thanks to the Board of Review (BOR) as well as the Assessor team that is working hard to complete the property assessment appeal process. Each resident has the opportunity to be heard by the BOR and share concerns regarding their property.
- We are committed to process improvements in each area of our Grundy County government. I have challenged all department heads and elected officials to continue to streamline and simplify steps, that residents follow, in order to obtain services from the county.
- With the new year, I am pleased to announce that Grundy County has fulfilled the goals of our Vision 2020 plan. Over the past three years, we set aggressive targets to reduce costs while streamlining and improving services for the residents of Grundy County. We achieved and exceeded these goals while continuing to reduce our budget on a year-over-year basis.
- While much has been accomplished, we still have much more work to do. I have a personal goal to ensure that Grundy county offices are transparent and helpful to all residents and members of the public. We must ensure that every person, who walks into a Grundy County office, is greeted and treated as a customer of that office with the highest level of respect and dignity. I will not rest until everyone feels comfortable that they receive answers to their questions and proposed solutions for their particular set up of circumstances.
- As I stated last month, please feel free to reach out to me on my cell phone at 815-641-0086 or contact me at email@example.com should you have any questions or suggested improvements.
- As we closed out 2019, I realized that we have a lot fantastic results to celebrate and that we still have a lot of work to do. My goal is to ensure that every Grundy County office focuses on becoming the most transparent, customer friendly organization that serves the public to the highest degree. I have a personal goal to ensure that the customer service bar is raised within specific areas.
- Grundy County residents elect myself and other board members. We are responsible and accountable to ensure that our leaders and department heads do everything they can to help our residents by answering questions, taking time to support their needs and enabling them to understand all options that exist for our residents who interact with us.
- If you have any questions or concerns about particular area of our organization, please contact me at 815-641-0086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tax Reduction Becomes a Reality! A huge thank you to the Grundy County Elected Officials and Department leaders for their cost reduction partnership that allowed the board to vote for a $209,000 lower tax levy in 2020. Residents should see a lower property tax extension coupled with a lower rate from Grundy County in 2020. Since Grundy County is, on average, 9% of a residential property tax bill, I hope that other municipalities are able to begin reducing their tax extensions as well. Grundy County residents need much more property tax relief!
- I am very humbled and excited at the level of cooperation that exists among county board members and elected officials. In Grundy County, we stick to facts and data. We keep our boss, the residents of Grundy County, in mind as we vote on policies and do what is right for the county. There is not bickering and name calling during our meetings and politics does not come into play as we discuss the pros and cons on each subject. I am convinced that, if this can be done at the local level, it can be done at the state and federal level as well.
- Great news for residents that are 65 and up in Grundy County. Starting in 2021, you will no longer need to fill out a form each year stating that you are still of over the age of 65! 😊 The board voted to remove this requirement during the November Full Board meeting.
- Happy Thanksgiving to all! I hope that everyone enjoys the holiday with friends and family. We do, indeed, have much to be thankful for.
- The full board is expected to vote on the recommendation, that we received from the Zoning Board of Appeals, to ban sale of cannabis in unincorporated areas of Grundy County. I have had many folks reach out to me and indicate their support of the ban. Two have expressed their desire of allowing cannabis sales so that we can capture the revenue and use the money to deal with the fall out of people using marijuana.
- I am having trouble understanding why it is appropriate to collect tax revenue on the sale of marijuana to help those that get into trouble because they use marijuana – it seems a bit illogical. The potential tax revenue that would be collected from the sale of cannabis, in unincorporated Grundy County, will be a drop in the bucket compared with the amount of money needed to treat those individuals that are in trouble because they used this drug.
- As I am still learning, I would really appreciate hearing from additional constituents on this topic. Aside from the medicinal purposes, I have not found any benefits of using recreational marijuana. My cell phone number is 815-641-0086 and my email is email@example.com.
- The Grundy County PADS organization is looking for volunteers to assist with the homeless shelters during the winter months. This is a wonderful group of folks that provide places for people to sleep from the months of October through March. For more information, please contact Denise Gaska at (815) 942-3245.
- I’m very excited to present a 2020 budget to the full board. We are looking forward to asking the property tax payers for less money in the 2020 year compared with the 2019 year. All department heads and elected officials are working hard to improve the quality of services while being efficient and reducing costs.
- The longer I’m in this job, the more I see how important it is to build and maintain transparency throughout the public organization. This builds trust with the Grundy County residents and allows the highest level of integrity to be achieved.
- Please take a moment to reach out to someone in your life and give them the gift of encouragement. We have no idea how one conversation can positively impact a persons life.
- I notice that many people, including me, seem to be in a hurry. Some are in a hurry to get to the next appointment or program. Some are in a hurry to get through a yellow light as it turns red. Recently, I have been reminded how precious life is and that it is good for us to slow down in our own lives. Taking a step back and evaluating who and what is most important to us can be a very healthy exercise. Traffic incident data, along with other barometers in Grundy County, indicate that we would benefit from taking intentional steps to reduce our stress levels in life. This can be a great help to ourselves and our families.
- Many of Grundy County staff has completed their goals of decluttering our buildings and office areas. The county board passed an updated policy that allows unused assets to be disposed of in the most efficient ways while being good stewards of the tax payer’s money. I am very thankful for all that have completed the decluttering goals.
- On January 1, 2020, the Illinois state laws regarding marijuana are changing. As a result, Grundy County Committees as well as the Full Board will discuss the ramifications of these changes during the September meeting schedule. They will determine if they want to pass specific resolutions in response to the state law. Members of the public are welcome to attend and share their thoughts during the public comments section of each meeting.
- We continue to work on property acquisition for the Ridge Road expansion in Minooka. This has proven to be a larger challenge than anticipated. Progress is being made with expected completion dates later in July. This will allow the project to go to the bidding process in August 2019.
- Demolition will begin, in August, on the two houses that the county acquired after the spring of 2013 flood. The goal is to return these two properties to a natural condition since they are in the floodplain.
- The 2020 budget plan is being developed and will be reviewed by the finance team in the second half of July. We are excited to continue to drive efficiencies into all county processes while raising the level of customer service.
- We were very grieved at the passing of our friend and colleague, Tim Doss. Tim did a great job managing the Grundy County Information Technology Department. He left a lasting impression on our county as he did a great job focusing on security and technological advancements. Please continue to pray for Tim’s family during this very difficult time.
- This will be our second year of using the CIC budgeting software. Every department is working on the 2020 budget with the goal of continuing to increase efficiency. We would like to stay as close to flat as possible, compared with 2019, on a year-over-year basis.
- We recently met with our representative from the Census Bureau. Preliminary plans were reviewed on how the 2020 Census will be conducted. Very exciting times for Grundy county as our population appears to be increasing due to a number of positive factors in our county including the number building permits issued. I’m very excited to see the census results, once completed, to see the specific population changes.
- The team is working hard on finalizing the plan to widen Ridge Road from Interstate 80 down to McEvilly Road. The goal is to have the project bid out to contractors in June. It will take approximately 24 months for the widening project to be finished.
- The county purchased two homes in the Minooka area that were in the floodplain. They have been vacated and we hope to get them torn down and have the properties cleaned up before the end of summer.
- The team is also working hard on spring cleaning. Each department head and elected official is working to clean out their areas. We will follow all retention policies and laws to ensure that necessary records are retained.
- The Grundy County partnership with each of the 17 townships continues to strengthen. We have reached agreement on assessment plans, from a financial perspective, with 85% of the groups.
- If you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 815-641–0086 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very excited to announce that we have created a partnership with Family Guidance Centers, Inc. (FGC). They participate in the Illinois Opioid State Targeted Response and the Illinois Opioid State Opioid Response Programs funded by federal grants. The purpose of these grants is to fund a comprehensive range of services in response to the opioid crisis in Illinois and, specifically, in Grundy County.
Here are a few of the details:
- FGC has a full time dedicated counselor assigned to the Grundy County Court System and another full time counselor assigned to Morris Hospital.
- FGC provided case-finding, Naltrexone (Vivitrol) injections and the post-release linkage services for people who are incarcerated in the Grundy County Jail.
- Pre-release assessment and case management services will occur while the person is still detained in the jail, and will include the offered provision of Vivitrol injection services, when it is medically and clinically appropriate, and will be followed by a hand-off to the FGC facility after the person is released from jail.
Vivitrol is a non-addictive antagonist used in the treatment of opioid dependence. The medication blocks opioid receptors so they cannot be activated. This “blockade” action, combined with naltrexone’s ability to bind to opioid receptors even in the presence of other opioids, helps keep abused drugs from exerting their effects when patients have taken or have been administered naltrexone. As an antagonist, naltrexone does not mimic the effects of opioids. Rather, it simply blocks opioid receptor sites so that other substances present in a patient’s system cannot bind to them.
If a patient who has been administered naltrexone attempts to continue taking opioids, he or she is unable to feel any of the opioid’s effects due to naltrexone’s blocking action. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved this medication for use in people with opioid use disorders to prevent relapse. However, the FDA recommends that Vivitrol should be used only in patients who have been detoxified from opioids and have been opioid free for 7 to 10 days.
Additionally, FGC now offers the following services for individuals in Grundy County:
- State Licensed & Approved Substance Use Disorder Clinical Assessments – The assessment is considered a pre-treatment intervention for an individual who has evidenced having or being at risk for having a substance use disorder problem. FGC provides assessments for Illinois Department of Children and Family Service referrals, criminal justice referrals, hospital referrals, self-referred individuals assisting in providing timely access to care. Using the Addiction Severity Index, a well-tested and validated tool, the FGC clinician is able to make an initial determination of the individual’s risk factors and offer appropriate treatment and/or referral options. FGC will report back its finding directly to the court personnel.
- Outpatient Substance Use Disorder Treatment – Criminal justice involved individuals may be appropriate for outpatient programming are in need of structured treatment focused on prevention of illicit use, but are ready to begin incorporating sober lifestyle changes into settings outside of treatment such as family, work, school etc. Recognizing substance use disorder as a multidimensional problem, outpatient treatment plans will address many issues including HIV, Hepatitis C, and other infectious disease prevention, job-readiness, perinatal addiction, domestic violence, criminal justice issues, parenting, concurrent health issues, and mental health in conjunction with the overarching goal of freedom from drug and alcohol abuse. The outpatient service menu will include substance use disorder assessment, group counseling, individual counseling, case management, and periodic drug screening.
- Residential Substance Use Disorder Treatment – Often times a person is in need of residential treatment to interrupt his or her usage pattern. Some clients need residential treatment to address biomedical or emotional/behavioral issues and needs. The primary goal of residential treatment is to provide the substance abusing and substance dependent client with a structured environment that optimizes a positive treatment outcome. Residential Rehab is a residential therapeutic community that is professionally staffed 24 hours a day. This residential community is designed to improve the client’s ability to structure and organize the tasks of daily living and recovery. Clinical programming is designed to develop and apply recovery skills, including relapse prevention, interpersonal choices, and development of a social network supportive of recovery.
We are excited to offer hope and freedom, through these programs, for individuals that are suffering from these life threatening drug additions.
- Many thanks to all of the elected officials and department heads, within Grundy County, that worked hard to achieve their 2018 budget goals. In many cases, leaders spent less than their targets while continuing to deliver high quality services to our residents and community. This represents a fantastic teamwork effort to be wise stewards of the taxpayer’s money.
- We are continuing to refresh our policies and standard work procedures that allow us to provide the highest level of services while ensuring that we follow all required policies and statutes along the way. For example, we have updated our safety procedures and our employee handbook in the last couple of months. Having clear policies and procedures remove any confusion and guesswork, within our daily operations, and provide an excellent guide for our employees.
- Spring cleaning started early! Leaders and employees are working hard to declutter offices by cleaning out work and storage areas. During this journey, each department head ensures that they follow the necessary retention policies that are required by federal, state and local laws for all documentation.
- Great news! The Grundy County GIS Department has recently upgraded the county’s web enabled interactive mapping platform. These updated mapping applications provide residents and county departments with a quick and easy reference for looking up real estate property information within Grundy County. New features for these maps include a completely redesigned user interface, ability to use the maps on any device and detailed parcel documentation on all newly created parcels. Often, knowing exactly where and how to look up information related to a real estate property can be a frustrating and time consuming task. These interactive maps act as a centralized hub to connect residents with this information in a way that is both speedy and straightforward by navigating a map. The goal is to leverage this geospatial technology in order to streamline research efforts and provide important county records in a way that is transparent and easy to use. Please check it out at https://maps.grundyco.org/webappbuilder/propertyviewer/
- The Grundy County Highway team is working hard on the project to widen Ridge Road from Minooka Road to McEvilly Road. This will help alleviate traffic congestion and provide a safer road in Minooka. We hope to begin construction during the summer of 2019.
- I had the opportunity to meet with the leaders of the Grundy Area PADS program. The PADS sheltering program is designed to offer a safe and welcoming place for people to be able to sleep during the coldest months of the year. It is open to adults and families who are in need. Their mission is to enhance the quality of life for those effected by homelessness and hunger in the Grundy Area. If you would like the opportunity to serve, please reach out to them at 815-942-3245 or by email at email@example.com.
- I am happy to announce that a very long list of courthouse renovations have been completed. This allows us to properly serve the public while ensuring that all facilities are in good operating order.
- We are working hard to ensure that we are the most transparent county government. The entire budget is on line and updated processes allow the public to have the clearest view of what happens to each one of their hard earned tax dollars.
- I am very excited that the 2019 budget has been approved by the full board and the tax rate continues its downward trend. We are working hard to drive out waste in each of our processes and increase efficiency on a year over year basis.
- I’m excited very excited that the 2019 Grundy County Budget is on file and is balanced! We will continue to drive efficiency improvements that allow us to reduce the property tax rate for our residents.
- Safety continues to be a top priority for Grundy County. I’m pleased to report that 2018 is one of the safest years on record for our employees and residents that use our facilities. I would like to help make safety a higher priority for our roads inside the county. I’ve heard many people reference I-80 as the most dangerous highway they have ever traveled on. We will look at opportunities to improve safety on our roads over the next year.
- Currently, the number of inmates inside our Grundy County jail is the lowest in recent history. While our Grundy County Sheriff’s Department continues to do an excellent job keeping our county safe, I’m glad that more of our residents appear to be making good choices and staying out of trouble. We are blessed to have volunteers that meet with with inmates and provide support to those that want coaching for challenges they are facing.
- All labor contracts are settled and implemented! I’m very happy to have these completed. We’ve already started working on the next round of contracts with future implementation dates. I’m very proud of every employee and the contributions that they make in their while serving in their jobs at Grundy County.
- Every elected official and department head has turned in their 2019 budget request. The numbers show that all are focused on improving efficiency and reducing costs. While our population in Grundy County continues to increase, we are working hard to prevent expenses from increasing. There is a large amount of teamwork and partnership, within the departments, which allows efficiencies to multiply through streamlining of processes and services.
- “Our property taxes are too high”….I hear that from most constituents throughout the county. Despite the fact that our expenditures and tax rate were lower, this past year, than they were 4 years ago, we need to work diligently to further reduce costs and provide relief to the hard working families in Grundy County. I will continue to make this a top priority as the 2019 budget is assembled over the next 3 months
- We received very positive news, at our last Insurance Trust meeting, regarding our Grundy County safety record. As we maintain a laser focus, work related safety incidents continue to drop. The number of open claims has steadily been reduced, over the last 24 months, and we only have four that remain open. The goal is to ensure that every Grundy County employee as well as every person visiting our facilities, returns home safely to their families and friends
- The task of filling the last 3 open seats on the Grundy County Ethics Commission was completed at our June full board meeting. Despite the fact that there has not been a need to use this commission over the last 2 years, it is important that we maintain 7 active commissioners, at all times, in case a resident would ever like to utilize the ethics commission.
- We have reached agreement on four out of the six bargaining unit contracts. We appreciate all of the hard work and involvement, on everyone’s part, to bring these contracts to successful resolutions. We are working hard on the last two open contracts and hope to have agreements soon.
- Our treasurer, administrator and leadership team are working together to fully utilize our financial management software for the 2019 budgeting process. This should eliminate spreadsheets and room for errors as well as help support the new five year Capitol Planning process that is being rolled out.
- The 2018 tax bills have been mailed out. While no one enjoys receiving that bill in the mail, it is good to see the county tax rate drop from .629 last year to this .621 this year. We will continue to work hard to improve efficiencies with a goal of striving for tax cuts in the future.
- I was honored to participate in a Ride Along Program with a deputy in the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department. It was a privilege for me to gain a better understanding of how these men and women put their life on the line for all of us in Grundy County. By the end of the day, I had a wonderful appreciation for the sergeants and deputies and all that they do to serve the public.
- Multiple projects are in flight to make road improvements within Grundy County. We are working hard to help everyone one get from Point A to Point B in the most efficient manner possible.
- As a reminder, the Grundy County Transit System is available for all residents who need help with transportation. For a small fee, residents are able to get transportation assistance if they need help getting to doctor’s visits, school or their job.
- Please consider reaching out to a person in need. We have many residents, in our area, that are in need of a friend that can help them through rough patches that they may be going through. Investing in those around us can pay very positive dividends, in their lives, for years to come.
- Like many areas in the country, we are experiencing job market growth due to new and expanding businesses. We are partnering with professional organizations, like the Grundy County Economic Development Council, to attract the right kind of companies that are good for our community while preserving the rich farmland heritage of Grundy County.
- The Grundy County Emergency Management Association (EMA) participated in an exercise with the Will County EMA for the Braidwood Nuclear Plant. It is wonderful to see all of the organizations work together, during the planned drills, to ensure our residents are safe throughout the year.
- A joint meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning Commission was held to discuss the consolidation of these bodies into one structure. The meeting went well with excellent comments and suggestions for the best way to move forward with the streamlining effort. This will reduce confusion and increase efficiency for members of the public that request zoning changes in Grundy County.
- Grundy County is off to a fantastic start in 2018! We had a great full board meeting on Tuesday, January 9 with a high degree of participation from the community.
- We are making progress on resolving the remaining open labor contracts. I look forward to seeing all contracts agreed upon so that we can continue moving forward with a highly engaged work force.
- It is exciting to walk through 2018 with a budget that is within 1% of being completely balanced. All elected officials and department heads continue to partner with their employees to streamline the cost of providing excellent services to the community. The theme of “how to be more efficient” is often discussed during committee meetings.
- Each department head and committee are in the process of updating their Vision 2020 goals. Many goals have been moved to the “Complete” section and we are now reaping the benefits of the changes that were made.
- I have been thinking a lot about those, in our community, that need our assistance. Unfortunately, we have an average of 35 to 40 people in the Grundy County jail on any given night. Many have made poor choices but have the goal of being successfully rehabilitated so that they can reconnect with their families in our community. My hope is that each one of us can reach out to those around us, that may need help, and invest in them.
- We have many non-profit organizations and churches, right here in Grundy County, that are willing to help people. Take the opportunity to extend a hand of grace and get a hurting individual connected with the right organization that can make all the difference in the world for those that need help.
- It has been a wonderful year at Grundy County as elected officials, department heads and employees worked together to increase efficiency and improve services for our residents while reducing costs along the way. I’m very proud to be a part of such a fantastic organization.
- Due to recent tax changes, it may be advantageous to prepay property taxes for next year prior to 12/31/17. The Treasurer’s office is able to accept payments up to the amount that was paid this year. Please contact your tax advisor or accountant for more information.
- Our administrator spend time on the topic of “Customer Service” at a recent staff meeting. Reviewing ideas on how we can continuously improve the processes of serving our customers is fantastic. I’m thankful that this remains one of our top priorities.
- I hope that everyone is able to take some time off, during this Holiday Season, and connect with friends and family. Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all!
- In order to be most efficient with everyone’s time, I am moving to a monthly update.
- I was very excited to see the board approve the amended 2017 budget (current fiscal year). As a result of the entire team driving cost reduction in a very focused manner, a $700,000 deficit was virtually eliminated.
- We are also starting the 2018 fiscal year off on the right foot by having a budget that is very close to being balanced.
- The estimated 2018 tax rate is forecasted to be the lowest in three years. All of the elected officials, department heads and employees stepped up to foster an environment of teamwork and to drive many efficiency improvements throughout the last 18 months.
- As I put myself in other people’s shoes and look at things from their perspective, I see more of the value that each Grundy County employee adds to the organization. We are blessed to have so many individuals that are dedicated to providing high quality services to our residents with a very high degree of accountability.
Week of 10/9/2017
• Additional action items are being completed to resolve the balance of the recommendations from the 2014 / 2015 IRS audit. A vehicle policy, that provides appropriate guidelines for the Grundy County employees, is moving through the committee structure and should be available for a full county board vote at the November meeting. Other process improvements, that were identified during the audit, have already been implemented. Our goal is to have 100% of the action items closed out before the end of this fiscal year. Special thanks goes to our Grundy County Treasurer, Lori Werden and her team, for all of their hard work on process improvements related to the audit. • Capital improvements are being made at the Grundy County Courthouse. The team is working hard to preserve this historic building while ensuring that it is in a safe condition for the residents, employees and inmates in the jail. • Our administrator and finance team are finalizing the 2018 budget. There is better news on our fiscal 2017 year and we have a public hearing scheduled at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, November 14. We are hoping to walk out of 2017 without the large deficit that was predicted at the start of this fiscal year! A budget hearing is also scheduled at 5:45 PM on the same day to review the final amendments to the 2018 budget. The public is welcome to ask questions and share opinions on both budgets. I really appreciate everyone’s engagement in this process to maximize efficiencies and make sure that we are being wise stewards of every dollar. Suggestions for improvements are always welcome and appreciated.
Week of 10/2/2017
- Our 2018 budget continues to solidify. We will have a second public hearing on the budget at 5:45 PM on Tuesday, November 14. We welcome any public comments or questions during this meeting.
- The county’s excellent safety record continues. I’m very appreciative of everyone’s help and partnership in proactively managing our most important task of ensuring that all employees and residents remain safe.
- We continue to work through all open employment contracts to ensure that all are resolved as soon as possible.
- There is an opening on the Public Building Commission. Please see me if you are interested in applying to serve on this committee.
Week of 9/25/2017
- Our Safety Manual has been updated and is now available to department heads and elected officials. We are excited to continue making safety as our number 1 priority. Our monthly safety meetings occur on the first Tuesday afternoon of every month and are very well attended.
- Trust is a wonderful thing. The longer I serve in this position, the more I see how trust is the foundation of all that we do and say. A firm foundation of trust allows all of us to work together and serve our residents in the most efficient manner. I am thankful to be a part of a team that values and trusts each other.
Week of 9/11/2017
- After six months of hard work by elected officials, Department Heads, our administrator and the county board, we have successfully voted to place the 2018 budget on file.
- With one exception, we were able to accept each department’s 2018 budget request because the team rallied together and drove efficiencies, throughout the year, that lowered expenditures
Week of 9/4/2017
- Trust is crucial to any organization. Our board, elected officials and department leaders are working very well together to continue to build trust. Our safety results and current financial status reflect how well the overall team is partnering with one another. I just received a note from a leader who took it upon himself to work with three other departments to eliminate safety issues, within the office, and dispose of outdated files along the way! I am so thankful to be a part of an organization that is working hard to foster an environment of trust and cooperation.
- There are several businesses that are interested in expanding their business footprint in Grundy County along with some potential new business growth in the area. During our recent legislative committee, this week, we had three developers present options for business growth. Wonderful opportunities!
Week of 8/28/17
- There is an impressive amount of collaboration between Grundy County Economic Development Council and our team to promote and grow business within Grundy County. We have multiple locations in the running for several new businesses and are very excited about all of the new prospects.
- We are very close to having a 2018 budget finalized and will begin the review process with the board. The goal is to have the budget placed on file during the September full board meeting and approved during the October board meeting.
- The HR team is working hard to update all of our standard work and process manuals to ensure that employees and department heads have clarity on roles and responsibility. Updated versions of the employee and department head manuals will soon be released.
- Our finance team is working hard to close all of the gaps identified by our annual auditing process as well as the IRS audit. Standard work is now in place to close the gaps and we look forward to a very healthy audit at the end of 2017.
- I continue to be impressed with the caliber of the leadership that we have among our elected officials and department heads. Our county is blessed to have a team that is working hard for every resident and visitor in the area.
Week of 8/21/17
- We are working hard to put safety first, in all that we do, to ensure that our employees and visitors go home safely to their families every time after visiting or working in our Grundy County facilities. Our safety record has greatly improved this year and I am proud of each person’s engagement in the proactive safety process.
- The entire Grundy County team has worked very well together to reduce costs and attempt to eliminate our 2017 budget deficit. We are 75% of the way through our fiscal year and the county is moving in the right direction!
- We are working hard to ensure that we have a 2018 balanced budget.
- We are partnering with our employees and leaders to resolve all open employment contracts. I look forward to having all contracts complete as soon as possible.
- Please be sure to attend our monthly full board meeting (Second Tuesday of every month at 6 PM) or any of our six committee meetings so that we can hear from you during our public comments section of each meeting.