During his State of the City address Wednesday, Mayor Richard Kopczick took time to thank the community for stepping up to help the city and each other through the April 18 flood.
“Having witnessed the unselfish volunteerism by so many in the recent record flooding, from high school students to ordinary citizens who worked tirelessly with our first responders and public works personnel to fill and place sandbags, to those that rescued people from their homes, I say thank you,” said Kopczick during the first council meeting of the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
“You all make Morris a home, not just another town,” he said.
At the start of the meeting, Kopczick was sworn back into office, followed by returning Aldermen Don Hansen, Ken Sereno and Bill Martin.
The newest member to the council, Don Matteson, was also sworn in. Matteson is a previous Morris alderman who ran for election again and won April 9, filling previous Alderman Drew Muffler’s seat.
Muffler ran against Kopczick and, therefore, could not run for his alderman position, as well.
Muffler, during the last meeting of the 2012-2013 fiscal year held before the first meeting of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, thanked the city’s residents for allowing him to serve.
“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve the citizens of Morris,” he said.
City Treasurer MaryBeth O’Brien was also sworn in. City Clerk John Enger was not present at the meeting and will be sworn in at a later time.
The mayor’s appointments were approved by the new council, as were liquor and miscellaneous licenses for city businesses.
Kopczick took time during his address to highlight some of the city’s accomplishments in the last year, such as returning $2.25 million to the local schools and taxing bodies from the Tax Increment Financing district.
“The city also reissued its bonds on the east side sewage treatment plant and will save approximately $340,000 in interest,” he said.
“We have also continued to upgrade our zoning codes, and annexed over 200 acres into the city.”
He expressed his excitement over the opening of the newly revamped Morris pool at the end of last season. This will be the first full summer the new pool is open.
Work continues on the expansion of the Morris Municipal Airport, said Kopczick. Other than the air rights above Saratoga Cemetery, the city has acquired all the land it needed to purchase for the runway expansion.
The city plans to extend its north-south runway and taxiway to the north by 500 feet, making it 5,500 feet, to accommodate larger aircraft. The extension also includes widening the runway from 75 to 100 feet and overlaying it with more asphalt to accommodate heavier aircraft.
“These improvements will allow for larger corporate aircraft to frequent our airport and attract industry to our area,” said the mayor. “It has been documented that the airport generates approximately $13 million in economic impact to the city.”
Kopczick touched on additional plans for this year, including the continuation of the Environmental Protection Agency-mandated Long Term Control Plan to eliminate sanitary sewer overflows, and the completion of the expansion of the drinking water treatment plant.
The city will also begin the development of a new city park in Deer Ridge subdivision.
“These infrastructure and public benefit improvements will help to continue to make Morris a desirable location for development,” he said.