In his annual State of the City address, Mayor Bill Hennessy acknowledged that 2020 was not what he or anyone else expected at the beginning of the year. However, he said the “city’s economy not only survived but thrived during this pandemic.”
Despite everything, Hennessy said 2020 actually was a solid year for the city, economically. He credited much of that success to residents who adjusted to wearing masks and social distancing, and who continued to “Keep it in the O” by supporting O’Fallon’s restaurants and retailers.
Hennessy also credited voters with passing Proposition 1 in June, adding a use tax to many out-of-state purchases. “Because of that tax, we can ensure our local businesses can compete fairly with online giants, and the city will see a new stream of revenues that will improve technology in the O’Fallon Police Department and allow city street crews to make even more repairs in residential neighborhoods,” he said.
Hennessy described several key 2020 accomplishments as:
- Completion in December of the first phase of the I-70 corridor project, which means the city’s primary northern entrance has been completely redone. The project included extended new one-way south and north outer roads between Hwy. K. and TR Hughes Boulevard for ‘traffic calming,’ with New Jersey U-Turn ramps at each end. In 2021, the one-way north and south outer roads will be extended between Hwy. K and Woodlawn Avenue, with New Jersey U-Turn ramps there as well. The I-70 corridor project is expected to be a major driver of economic development, as new commercial and industrial land is now available in that area for development.
- Construction by Payne Family Homes of the $400 million Streets of Caledonia project, the largest mixed-use development in O’Fallon’s history. Located at the intersection of I-64 and Hwy. DD, the development will include more than 650 single-family homes and townhomes and nearly 100 acres dedicated to commercial, office and retail development.
- Significant improvements in infrastructure, such as beginning construction on the new $26 million sewer plant needed to meet Missouri Department of Natural Resources requirements and allow for a cleaner, more efficient system. The new plant is on schedule to open in fall 2022.
- The city engineering team securing more than $8 million in state and federal funding for 2021 road improvements on many major streets, including Main Street, Winghaven, Mexico Road and Hwy. DD.
- Almost 300,000 square feet of industrial space developed in O’Fallon in 2020 by advanced manufacturing firms. One of those, Cosmos Corporation and its 200 employees, moved into a new global headquarters on Pearl Drive and immediately stepped up to help the community. A family-owned business, Cosmos donated 100 cases of much-needed hand sanitizer to the city and the O’Fallon Chamber in spring 2020, Hennessy said.
- The O’Fallon Police Department completed its accreditation process and introduced a new golf cart program that helped officers engage with residents safely throughout the summer. Over the next two years, the Police Department will begin significantly upgrading its technology with new records management and dispatch systems, plus new body and dash cameras. These improvements, Hennessy said, are being funded with use tax funds.
- A future savings of nearly $17 million and lowering the planned sewer rate increase by more than 7% as a result of changes in the way the city removes bio-solid waste.
- Replacement of water and sewer lines throughout north O’Fallon and improved sewer lines throughout the system. This year, the city will continue to replace older lines and rehabilitate several wells and water towers to ensure a continued safe and clean water supply.
- An increase in the city’s bond rating from an Aa2 to Aa1, which is one of the highest ratings available from Moody’s.
Also in 2020, O’Fallon’s Planning Department began the process of creating a new Comprehensive Plan for the entire city. That process will continue throughout 2021.
A video recording of the mayor’s full address can be found at www.ofallon.mo/us in the Government tab; click on the Watch City Meetings link in the drop-down menu.