Morris Mayor Brown highlights city’s efforts during State of the City

Morris Mayor Chris Brown addresses the crowd at the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce's 2024 State of the City Address.

The last year has been a busy one for the City of Morris, and Mayor Chris Brown highlighted all of the efforts city employees and elected officials made to continue in their goal of improving the city.

Brown began by highlighting the financial success the city had in fiscal 2023-24, posting a surplus for the first time since 2011-12. Brown explained that by a surplus, he means the city’s revenue exceeded its spending, and it saw a 35% increase in sales tax since 2021 and its revenues have increased 44% since 2021.

“Coupled with controlled spending, I am pleased to announce that the city of Morris had an estimated $29.7 million across all funds in April 2024,” Brown said. “Our fiscal year started on May 1. We had approximately $6.1 million in the general fund, those numbers representing a 21% increase across all funds and a whopping 49% increase in the general fund. After our first year, if you were here, we were going to be left with about $400,000 in our general fund if we spent everything we needed to, so that’s a huge feat for the city of Morris, City Council, and administration.”

Brown thanked each member of the City Council and every city employee, including City Clerk Lori Werden, whom he credited with much of the city’s financial success.

JJC President Clyne Namuo spoke before Brown, mentioning the success Morris had in obtaining grants for improvements. Morris has received $23 million in grants since 2021, and used those grants for projects like bridge replacements, road widening, and park improvements. Morris has received $2 million for the Brisbin Road project, which will widen the road to three lanes and add curb and gutters over a one mile stretch.

Brown touted two park projects at Goodwill and West Side. Work on Goodwill Park is now complete, and it is fully handicap accessible. Work on West Side Park has begun, and it’s expected to be completed in 2025. Both of these projects also received Open Space Land Acquisition and Development grant funding from the state of Illinois.

More projects are still coming: The new Morris Fire Protection District Station on Armstrong Street a block north of Morris City Hall is officially opening in a few weeks, and Morris Public Works is receiving a $5.25 million new building near Gun Club and Ashley Roads on the east side of Morris. Brown said the Morris Public Works building will be fully paid for by the time construction is finished in Jan. 2025.

Brown said the city also finished purchasing all the real estate needed for the Morris Airport crosswind project, which it hopes to break ground on in 2025.

(From left) Morris Mayor Chris Brown and Edward Jones' Austin Feeney award Stephanie Olena, Sam Mateski and Miranda Muffler with scholarships.

The state of the City address ended with Austin Feeney from Edward Jones awarding the Mayor Brown Community Scholarships, a $2,500 and two $1,000 scholarships. Stephanie Olena received the $2,500 scholarship and Miranda Muffler and Sam Mateski each received the $1,000 scholarships.

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec

Michael Urbanec covers Grundy County and the City of Morris, Coal City, Minooka, and more for the Morris Herald-News