Barrington village manager prioritizes economic development
Barrington Monday, 11/12/12 Barrington Village Manager, Jeff Lawler. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:22AM
BARRINGTON — With the Nov. 6 general election in the books and the April municipal elections approaching, Pioneer Press sat down with village administrators across the region to discuss issues facing each community.
The municipal leaders re-iterated lingering local needs they hope will be addressed by the new crop of legislators in Springfield as well leaders at the respective Village Halls.
In Barrington, Village Manager Jeff Lawler said last week that bringing new businesses into Barrington is a top priority locally.
Although village officials would like to be optimistic about the future, Lawler explained that the times call for a very close eye on the village budget and expenditures.
“We’ve been very focused on economic development,” he said. “But we certainly keep a very close watch on our budget.”
Lawler cited significant cuts the village made in 2008 in response to the economic crisis that spread nationwide.
“We’ve continued to budget conservatively in that time,” he said.
Lawler said the village is positioned to welcome a variety of businesses to the area.
“We’ve gone to the trade shows where retail operators are,” Lawler said. “We have provided economic incentives to try to get businesses to come to the area.”
As an example, Lawler said the village is excited that an Ace Hardware was scheduled to open this week on Hough and Main streets.
Lawler also said the village is planning the replacement of a water main in the central business district and is also working on improving bike and pedestrian paths in town.
“We’ve been very busy, actively working on some of those projects,” he said. “We’re looking at opportunities to make more connections between bike and pedestrian routes.”
Additional local infrastructure investments include plans to install walkways in areas where there are no sidewalks.
“We’re looking forward to having safer links to school for kids,” he said.
When asked about pension obligations, Lawler reported that the village’s pensions costs have increased in recent years, and it’s unknown what impact potential statewide reforms would have for Barrington taxing bodies.
He explained that the increases in pensions impact a wide range of community budgets.
“Communities and villages have to bridge that gap each year with funding to keep pension systems viable,” he said.
Lawler also discussed the issue of transparency in government. He said the village has taken several steps to ensure its business is conducted in the open.
“We think the website has a great deal of information,” he said, explained that the site allows residents to report issues like potholes and burned-out streetlights.
Lawler also said the website was updated in 2009 with new features to give community members as much information as possible on village operations.
“If someone has questions about the village, it’s a good place to start,” he said.