Mayor cites city progress

January 2, 2019

KANKAKEE — Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong, who is in her 20th month at the helm, said last week that the city accomplished a lot in 2018. And she vowed she was just getting started.

She noted that she promised to give residents property tax relief and seek solutions to protect police and fire pensions. Both of those goals were accomplished, she said.

Earlier this month, the city reduced its property tax levy by 25 percent.

This was offset by a 2 percentage point sales tax increase, but sales taxes also are paid by out-of-towners. The tax hike is dedicated to shore up the city police and fire pension funds.

“This is a huge accomplishment for the city. In my opinion, those accomplishments are worthy of news,” Wells-Armstrong said in a live video chat on the city’s website Thursday. “Since our newspaper is choosing not to report on those positive things happening in the city, I encourage you to share that information.”

In the Dec. 19 issue of the Daily Journal, a front page story was published regarding the property tax reduction.

Other accomplishments, she said, including bringing back a Tractor Supply store to the city. It is expected to open this year.

The city also found a company, U-Haul, to occupy the vacant Ultra Foods building. Ideally, the mayor said, the city would have liked another grocery store in the building, but because of a number of factors, that was unable to happen.

“I don’t want to see a building sit there vacant,” Wells-Armstrong said.

The city was among three municipalities selected nationally for a program to improve the gig economy, which involves people working as independent contractors. The program, she said, helps upgrade people’s digital skills.

Wells-Armstrong also noted the approval of a $1.9 million project on Schuyler Avenue in downtown, which will replace sidewalks and curbs and add landscaping, lighting and bike lanes.

The money comes from a city tax increment financing account, or TIF, which was earmarked to improve the downtown neighborhood. The revenue is generated by property taxes from buildings in that neighborhood.

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