November 8, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Solomon Islands: City Government: Aurora Beacon News: Weisner gets to work

Peace Corps Online: State: Illinois: February 8, 2005: Index: PCOL Exclusive: Illinois : November 8, 2005: Headlines: Figures: COS - Solomon Islands: City Government: Aurora Beacon News: Weisner gets to work

By Admin1 (admin) ( - on Sunday, November 27, 2005 - 11:31 pm: Edit Post

Weisner gets to work

Weisner gets to work

Mayor Tom Weisner's plan to borrow more than $150 million and raise property taxes to pay for some much-needed downtown improvements and a new police headquarters is the kind of thing the people of Aurora have been waiting for since he took office more than six months ago. Tom Weisner, elected mayor of Aurora, IL in 2005, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Solomon Islands.

Weisner gets to work

Weisner gets to work

It was a bold move — even his critics will tell you so.

And although not everyone out there will agree with it, Mayor Tom Weisner's plan to borrow more than $150 million and raise property taxes to pay for some much-needed downtown improvements and a new police headquarters is the kind of thing the people of Aurora have been waiting for since he took office more than six months ago.

During his campaign, Weisner promised a new kind of progressive leadership and a departure from the status quo that would pull the city out of the doldrums.

Until last week though, thanks to several early-term stumbles — his odd obsession with the questionable alternative fuel E85, his inability to fill several key positions that were left vacant months ago, and the well-intentioned but poorly-executed hiring of Chief-of-staff Bob Vaughan — Weisner was beginning to lose even some of his staunchest supporters.

The new budget plan is winning them back.

"These are things that the city has been trying to do for years," one previously disillusioned Weisnerite told me, "and finally, someone is coming up with a way to get them done."

The major projects Weisner has proposed — the $60, million construction of a new central police station, the $50 reconstruction of the downtown water and sewer system and a $15 million investment in city-owned fiber-optic and wireless Internet network — won't come cheap, both in terms of actual dollars and Weisner's political capital.

The new mayor has enjoyed near-unanimous support on the City Council for all of his initiatives thus far, but getting some members to go along with a tax increase — even one that will cost most residents less than 100 bucks a year — could be a tough sell, especially when it comes to those who need to get re-elected in a year-and-a-half.

But since the tax hike is tied directly to the new police station — a project that should have been started 10 years ago — it should be a somewhat easier pill to swallow, both for aldermen and their constituents.

Increasing the city's debt payments — in this case by as much a $9 million a year for 30 years — is always a scary proposition for the fiscally conservative among us. But the work needs to get done, especially the water and sewer project. Any developer will you that the antiquated system is a major road block for anyone looking to build something new here.

It was a deal-breaker for the once hopeful River City project a decade ago. So it only makes sense to get the work done all at once now, rather than piece by piece over the next 10 years.

"By leveraging our bonding ability," Weisner explained, "we can get this city moving forward right now."

Arguments in favor of the technology improvements fall along the same lines. We won't know for years whether these projects will help spark the type of renaissance the area has been looking for since store and shoppers left for the Fox Valley mall three decades ago. But it's good to know we now have a mayor whose willing to take a chance to make it work.

Ed Fanselow covers state and local politics and Aurora City Hall for The Beacon News. He can be reached at (630) 844-5957 or

When this story was posted in November 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Aurora Beacon News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Solomon Islands; City Government


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