State of the Village

2020
Hello,
I hope everyone is doing well and ready for the holidays.  As we continue to navigate through the pandemic I’d like to thank you for doing your part.  It certainly has had its share of challenges, but by continuing to wear face coverings, social distancing, and washing our hands we will help our fellow residents stay healthy. 
In light of 2020, we at the Village continue to move forward and make adjustments as needed, while providing critical services for residents and businesses.  Included below is a “State of the Village” update, covering topics from COVID-19 to economic development, and others.  Please take the time to review as we strive to keep you informed about our community.

COVID-19 Pandemic
Like the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the Village of Wauconda, including our residents and businesses.  On March 27th Mayor Lincoln F. Knight declared a local state of emergency in the Village of Wauconda in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  As of December 1st the Village Board has extended this state of emergency 17 times since March.  As a result of the local emergency, the Village Board has taken the following actions:
  • Suspended all late payment penalties and water shut-offs for all water/sewer customers from March through October.
  • Froze the water/sewer rates that were scheduled to increase on July 1, 2020.
  • Extended payment due dates for all Village business license and liquor license holders.
  • Amended the Village Liquor Code to allow for the delivery of alcohol to assist bars and restaurants that are impacted by the pandemic.
  • Issued 7 temporary outdoor seating permits to allow restaurants to expand their seating capacity during pandemic mitigations.
The Mayor and Village staff have participated in countless phone calls regarding COVID-19, including calls with the Lake County Health Department, Illinois Department of Public Health and Governor Pritzker, and the White House Coronavirus Task Force. 
Working with the Wauconda Area Chamber of Commerce, the Village helped to communicate information to our businesses regarding Federal and State grant funding opportunities, including the Lake County Small Business Assistance COVID-19 grant program, State of Illinois BIG program, US SBA Coronavirus Relief Programs, and CARES Act relief programs.  The Village’s Economic Development Committee has also met several times in November and early December to discuss additional local business grant opportunities.  Finally, the Village secured approximately $569,000 in grant funding from Lake County through the federal CARES Act to help the Village offset costs incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Village Finances
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, in the spring the Village Board was able to pass a balanced budget without cutting services and while continuing to fund necessary capital improvements.  This was primarily possible due to various cost containment measures implemented over the past several years along with a strong emergency reserve.  While COVID-19 has impacted Wauconda’s local economy, retail sales in the Village are exceeding original budgeted expectations, with sales for July, August, and September actually surpassing actual sales from 2018 and 2019 for the same period.  Although many of our local businesses are still struggling, the unified support of our residents have helped to keep many businesses alive during the pandemic.

Economic Development
In spite of COVID-19, Wauconda has been fortunate to see several economic development opportunities come our way in 2020:
Liberty Court TIF Development – After its inception in 2013, Wauconda’s Triangle Area TIF District located on IL 176 between IL 59 and US Hwy 12 has its first proposed redevelopment project known as Liberty Court.  The proposed Liberty Court project located at 480-486 W. Liberty Street (vacant parcel and current Fifth Third Bank property) will feature a new 15,600 SF medical office building in the location of the existing Fifth Third Bank building as well as a relocation of Fifth Third Bank to a smaller 2,400 SF building just east along the IL 176 frontage.  Adjacent to the new Fifth Third Bank location are plans for a new 2,100 SF Starbucks café.  
The Village is in preliminary discussions with the developer for this project and more information on this opportunity will become available in early 2021.
Wauconda Care Expansion – This project includes a 26,000 SF expansion of the existing rehabilitation center on Thomas Court.  This expansion includes the addition of 42 new one-bedroom units.
BP Gas Station - This $1.5 million remodeling project included the replacement of the existing gas pumps with new pumps, a new canopy, new signage, remodeling of the “C” Store (convenience store), and the upgrading and remodeling of the car wash.
Pet Supplies Plus – Pet Supplies Plus has submitted plans for an interior build-out of the 7,675 SF space currently vacant between Rosati’s Pizza and the Post Office in the Liberty Square shopping center.
Synergy Flavors – Synergy Flavors is continuing their reinvestment in their Wauconda facility and has recently submitted plans for the interior remodeling of the two story office building and part of their production facility.  In total this represents a 14,000 SF renovation valued at approximately $2.4 million.  This new reinvestment follows Synergy’s previous large-scale remodeling completed in 2019, which included a $4.1 million, 18,000 SF expansion.

Other Village Highlights
In addition to spending time and resources helping to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, the Village was able to accomplish several other important initiatives in 2020:
Prairieland Disposal - In September the Village entered into a new residential waste, recycling, and yard waste service franchise agreement with Prairieland Disposal.  This process was part of a joint-jurisdictional Request-For-Proposal (RFP) with the Villages of Lake Zurich, Island Lake, Tower Lakes and Deer Park.  Some of the benefits of this new contract include:
  • Lower monthly prices versus proposed Waste Management renewal
  • Continuation of leaf vacuuming services
  • Free yard waste pick-up included in garbage service (up to 15 bags per week)
  • Single-pass vehicles for the collection of both garbage and recycling with one truck, which will help with wear-and-tear on Village roads
New Village Website - To improve communication with our residents and business community, in October the Village launched a newly designed Village of Wauconda website.  The new design features a clean and organized layout, homepage social media feeds, pop-up alerts, and an improved news flash section.  The Village website may be accessed at https://www.wauconda-il.gov/.
Village of Volo Police Services – Beginning on November 1st the Village entered into an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Volo for overnight parking enforcement services.  This new agreement will bring approximately $76,000 a year of new revenue to the Village’s General Fund.

2020 Capital Improvement Projects -
  • The Larkdale Storm Sewer Rehab Project was completed this summer.  The Village received a grant for 50% of the project cost in the amount of $30,000 from the Lake County SMC SIRF Grant program.
  • In late 2020 the Village will be installing two new electric car charging stations at the Village Hall parking lot, which will be open to the public.
  • The Village completed Phase II engineering for the Main Street resurfacing project from Route 12 south to the Village corporate limits just south of the American Legion Hall.  The Village is applying for federal funding to help pay for this approximately $1.4 million project.
  • The Village completed the capping of four shallow wells that are no longer needed now that the Village receives its water from Lake Michigan. Four deep wells will remain in operation on standby as the Village’s emergency backup water supply.
As you can see the board and staff have been busy as usual, while making adjustments as needed due in part to the pandemic and its effects. We strive to keep Wauconda a place where we can work, live and play and this is due to all of us working together.

-Mayor Lincoln F. Knight

2019