Pains, rains, trains and gains. That’s how Barrington Village President Karen Darch summarized her the state of the village during her annual address on March 28.
“This is my opportunity to let you, the Board of Trustees, know comprehensively how things are going, as well as a time to suggest what might be going forward,” Darch said.
The first topic she discussed was pain, which both the village government and many citizens of Barrington are facing due to the state of the economy.
“We have reduced our village staff by over 19 percent over the last two years in order to balance our village budget. We have tried to close any gap in service levels as a result of the staff reductions by finding more efficiencies in service deliveries through automation and restructuring tasks,” Darch explained.
Although the Village of Barrington’s unemployment numbers are not considered high compared to the rest of the state or country, the village has done its part to help people find jobs.
“To those effected, we are thankful for places like Career Place, helping people to prepare to be hired and re-hired. We also appreciate the resources available at the Barrington Public Library and Harper College,” Darch said.
Darch, along with members of the village staff, have continued to push for the state to balance its budget so Barrington and other villages can get money that is owed to them.
“At the local level, we have made cuts in our expenses to match declining revenues and still meet critical service needs,” Darch said. “We expect our state lawmakers to cut the state budget expenses to balance the state budget rather than withholding revenue due to local government.”
The topic of rain was up next in Darch’s speech. Specifically, she spoke about water management.
“One of the challenges facing us is to gain a realistic picture of our water supply," she said. "The demands on it, and how to best manage storm water, ground water and waste water in a way to best protect property and also ensure an adequate water supply for generations to come."
Darch told the trustees about recent storm water line upgrades and replacements. She also spoke of a new alliance with neighboring communities to share water and best practices for water conservation.
“Our storm water management study, our public works utility knowledge, the BACOG work, together with other information that is shared by members of this newly formed alliance, and outside experts, are the first steps in creating the knowledge and plans which will allow us to best manage our water,” Darch said. “We have our work cut out for us, and we have partners who are willing to help us.”
The issue of the Canadian National Railway was a hot topic during Darch’s speech. The Village of Barrington has been fighting CN’s acquisition of the Elgin Joliet & Eastern Railway since 2007. Darch explained that the fight to get rid of train congestion in the village is far from over.
“From the first moments when we learned about CN Railroad’s plans to buy the EJ&E Railroad, Barrington has made its voice in this matter heard,” Darch said.
Barrington continues to fight for more funding to build a grade separation at Route 14 that would alleviate the traffic noise and other issues due to CN’s increase in freight traffic.
“We believe that Barrington will ultimately achieve justice in this matter,” Darch said. “We are certain that the fairness and necessity in grade separating the vehicles on Route 14 in Barrington, the only remaining un-separated route crossed by the EJ&E in Illinois, will be recognized by all.”
Darch said that Barrington will continue to fight for justice in this matter at least until January of 2015, when the Safety Transportation Board will no longer oversee the merger.
“We must be in this for the long haul,” she said. “Barrington’s future depends on our efforts in this very big issue.”
Darch concluded her speech on a positive note, talking about the gains the village has made in 2010.
Some of the many village accomplishments include environmental factors. Barrington was named a Tree City once again last year, and public works officials planted 120 parkway trees throughout the village. Public works also steps toward abolishing the Emerald Ash Borer which was first discovered in Barrington last year.
Darch also praised the village for financial and business gains. More than 30 new businesses opened in Barrington in 2010, and more than seven have opened so far this year. The village was also recognized for excellence in financial reporting and budgeting after having a budget surplus in the last fiscal year.
“Barrington is a great community. Our past is a testament to our caring citizens thoughtful action and hard work,” Darch said. “Barrington’s success is our desire, and we agree that our residents expect, deserve and will receive no less.”