ROCKTON - The municipal leaders of Rockton, Roscoe and South Beloit answered questions about business growth, budget challenges and how the communities could work together during a Mayoral Forum held at Rock Tek Wednesday evening.
Rockton Village President Dale Adams, Roscoe Village President Dave Krienke and South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl answered questions on a variety of topics at the event, which was the first organized by the Stateline Chamber of Commerce's newly formed Government Affairs Committee.
The municipal leaders said they have talked about cooperative efforts that could be beneficial to residents of all three communities. South Beloit, which is upgrading its waste water treatment plant, has proposed Rockton could hook up to the South Beloit Sewer plant. Rockton in turn has suggested a combined South Beloit and Rockton police agency. Both ideas are only in the discussion stages, according to the city leaders. However, the leaders agreed it is important for the communities to work together.
"What is best for Roscoe is best for Rockton is best for South Beloit," Rehl said. "It's a regional economy."
Other suggestions for cooperation between the communities included a combined park district and one resident suggested the South Beloit Businessmen's Association work more closely with the Stateline Chamber of Commerce.
Adams, Krienke and Rehl all agreed that residential growth and revenue for the three communities has slowed in recent years.
"We have about 16 new homes built a year in Rockton now," Adams said. "That's down from about 200 a year the village saw in the years 2000 to 2004."
Krienke said in the 1990s and early 2000s, Roscoe doubled in size, but now that residential growth has slowed.
To counter the slowed residential growth and flat tax revenue, the communities are trying to foster business and industrial growth.
Adams said Rockton has three Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts, which offer financial incentives for businesses to move to the village and encourages existing businesses to expand.
Krienke said Roscoe was able to receive a state grant allowing the village to expand sewer service to businesses such as All World Machinery and Camping World. Rehl said he is excited about talks the city has had with a potential buyer interested in the former Besly building located behind the Garden Hotel.
A resident attending the forum asked the leaders if they had ever thought of stepping down to let others lead their communities.
Adams, who has served as village president of Rockton for 15 years, said wasn't going to run for his fifth term, but no one stepped forward to run for his office. Krienke, who is in his third term at Roscoe's village president, said he would continue serving as long as he enjoys what he is doing.
Rehl, who is just finishing his first term as South Beloit mayor, also said he would do the job as long as he enjoyed it.
"As long as it's fun. When it isn't fun, I won't do it anymore, or the voters may decide, throw the rascal out."