City Council discusses problems in Macomb


File Photo

Mayor Mike Inman discusses issues facing Macomb.

Steven Barnum, Assistant News Editor

Mayor Mike Inman presented a State of the City address during Monday evening’s meeting. Among topics discussed were crime, quality of life, declining enrollment at Western Illinois University and the city’s current and future financial positions.

Index crimes, a term used to describe serious offenses like armed robbery or burglary, have decreased by 32 percent over the last five years. City ordinance violations have seen a more drastic decline; they are down more than 47 percent in the last five years. When it comes to safety on the roads, traffic accidents are down 30 percent in the last five years, along with a 48 percent decrease in injuries from traffic accidents.

One theme of the night was the challenges the town will have to face in the future due to the declining enrollment at Western. Coupled with the increase in online shopping, sales tax collections are down by nearly two percent in the last year.

“We are absolutely proud to be the home of Western Illinois University,” Inman said.

While he noted that other college towns in the state of Illinois have experienced similar issues, Western’s decline of over 21 percent over a 10 year period appears to be a concern for future growth; however, a new recruitment strategy is in place to halt that decline and an investment has been made in the Go West bus system.

Another area of concern is the rising cost of the police and fire pension, where there’s a 150 percent spike since 2013. Through a gradual process, Macomb is both reducing and eliminating several positions in those departments. By alluding back to lower crime rates and the handling of a record number of EMS calls, Inman stressed that the town’s police and fire units have done a tremendous job protecting the public.

When it comes to housing in Macomb, the numbers indicate that it’s a buyer’s market. There are currently 149 homes up for sale, with 21 additional homes pending sale. Homes are gradually spending more time on the market compared to a couple years ago, but Inman pointed out that for those who want to join the Macomb community, both medium household income and per capita income are on the rise.

Inman assured the public that the town has a development plan for downtown businesses, and that there will be several opportunities for entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas. One of those opportunities will take place on July 19 at the Forum, where members of the public can present their ideas for a downtown business, in a pitch competition and potentially be awarded $25,000. For those interested, registration will take place this month.

Pointing out another positive in the town’s future, Inman announced that NTN-Bower Corporation, a large manufacturer of precision roller bearings, would expand its production at the Macomb plant, which is a large investment and is expected to add 100 jobs within the next 18 months. Overall, there are plans for $400 million in investment between now and 2019.