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Mayor delivers state of city address during new fiscal year meeting

MORRIS – The city of Morris rang in the new fiscal year Thursday with a prayer from Steve Larson of the First Baptist Church and a state of the city address from Mayor Richard Kopczick.

The address is delivered every year on May 1 – when the city’s new fiscal year begins – to highlight the accomplishments of the prior year and the proposed projects of the upcoming budget cycle.

Kopczick touted the city’s work to save taxpayer money through initiatives like the city’s electrical aggregation program, which has saved an estimated $450 per household in the last three years.

“As has been the case for more than 10 years, the city was once again able to hold our property tax multiplier to just 65 cents and maintain a positive balance in our budget,” Kopczick said in his address.

Some of the major projects from last year included beginning work on the new Deer Ridge Park, the expansion of the city’s water plant and the Waverly Street Storm Sewer Project, which will alleviate flooding near the hospital.

This year, the city will begin phase II of Deer Ridge Park and begin work on the runway extension project at Morris Municipal Airport.

Residents also can look forward to new development in town with additions of new businesses and manufacturing facilities in 2014.

“A new Goodwill store has begun clearing ground next to Aldi and a Pilot Travel Center is preparing to break ground on north Route 47,” Kopczick said.

The city will continue to work toward creating a second tax increment finance district on the east side of town to include the proposed marina and annexing the property needed for the new Costco meat processing facility, Kopczick added.

A TIF district is an area in which assessed property values are frozen at their current level. Tax money generated from the difference between the frozen value and current value of those properties in the district goes into a special TIF fund to be used to improve properties in the district.

“With all of the events, programs and festivals planned this year, like previous years, this year promises to be very busy and exciting,” Kopczick said.

Just before beginning the first meeting of the year, the city closed out fiscal 2013 with the last meeting of 2013, where the council approved an ordinance authorizing a development agreement between Morris and Pilot Travel Centers of America.

The agreement allows for an stormwater easement needed to complete a drainage project near Mall Road and the location of the new Pilot station.

The Pilot was first presented to the city in 2012, but the project was delayed due to internal issues at Pilot. Pilot now hopes to begin construction soon. The station will include Subway, PJ Fresh Marketplace and Cinnabon restaurants.

The council also approved an ordinance creating the human resource administrator position, compensated with a $6,000 a year stipend. The city’s current Deputy Treasurer Daria Lynes was then appointed to the position during the first-of-the-year meeting.

With the stipend, Lynes will be making about $60,000 a year.

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