Economic Development

Local businesses continue to invest in Urbana. All commercial areas of the city have grown, even during the recession. A new project involving $2.5 million of private investment was just announced for the corner of Main and Race Streets, bringing to the center of downtown a restaurant, bar, apartments and offices.

In the last four years alone, new or expanded businesses total 115 city-wide. Please see the list. Urbana has made good use of Tax Increment Finance districts and enterprise zones to assist business creation and expansion. The new “Think Urbana” enterprise zone is spurring home building and if the City wins the Carle lawsuit, property taxes will drop as much as 20%. That will be a tremendous boost to development.

Carle Lawsuit – Defending Urbana Taxpayers

When Carle filed suit against the City of Urbana to avoid paying its fair share of taxes, Mayor Prussing and the city council decided to fight the suit. Urbana ultimately, counter-sued to challenge the constitutionality of a state law that allows Carle to consider itself a tax-exempt non-profit organization, even though it is among the 10 most profitable hospitals in the country (Johns-Hopkins study).

When Carle stopped paying its taxes, everyone else’s tax bill rose more than 11%. Urbana won both lawsuits at the appellate court level. Today, after millions of dollars of construction, Carle’s share of property tax would be 20%. If the Illinois Supreme Court rules in favor of Urbana and Carle starts paying taxes again, everyone else’s bill will go down 20%. Homeowners and developers will benefit if Urbana wins the suit.

Excellent Financial Management

Unlike most cities, Urbana did not lay off police or fire fighters during the recession. The City cut spending and increased revenue from the hotel-motel tax and other small taxes, but held the line on property taxes. Urbana reduced the City portion of your property tax bill.

Cutting Costs Without Cutting Employee Benefits

Urbana paid Carle’s Health Alliance $3 million in 2013 for health insurance. Health Alliance asked for a 10% increase for 2014. Mayor Prussing asked our insurance agent and an employee committee to work for a better deal. Results: 2014-no increase; 2015-3% cut; 2016-no increase; 2017-11.5% cut (by switching to Blue Cross). The City saved $3 million over four years on the cost of employee health insurance.

Environmental Sustainability

Mayor Prussing initiated our Sustainability Advisory Commission and hired Urbana’s first Sustainability Coordinator. Urbana won a “Cool Cities” award from Sierra Club for its Climate Action Plan. Prussing won “Public Official of the Year” from the Illinois and national Water Environment Federation. Urbana also won the American Planning Association’s “Sustainability Award.”

Public Safety

By hiring more police and enacting effective new ordinances, Urbana cut the violent crime rate in half from 2005-2015. In 2016, Urbana faced a new threat of gang-related, gun violence with three murders in one week. Mayor Prussing proposed hiring 5 new police officers to address this sudden spike in gun violence.

Mayor Prussing’s leadership was crucial in saving the Police Training Institute (PTI) at the University of Illinois. Through the University, PTI gets quality training in areas like implicit bias that is not provided elsewhere.

Mayor Prussing has formed a statewide coalition to provide sustainable funding for 911 systems.

The first Civilian Police Review Board in downstate Illinois was created by Mayor Prussing in 2006.

Helping The People of Our Community 

While the state and other cities have slashed funding for social services, Mayor Prussing and the Urbana City Council have kept Urbana’s commitment to help people in need. The City and Township provide more than $300,000 annually to local human service agencies to help children, senior citizens, people with physical and mental disabilities, victims of violence and homeless individuals and families. Mayor Prussing works in a national coalition to promote mental health funding for cities.

Top 10 Reasons to Re-Elect Laurel Prussing Mayor on February 28:

 1. Prussing led Urbana through a recession and loss of hospitals tax revenue without cutting services or raising the city’s share of property taxes. 

  2. The City got back the $1 million loan it used to leverage private investment in fixing the Landmark Hotel downtown instead of paying hundreds of thousands of public dollars to demolish it.

  3. One hundred fifteen new businesses opened in Urbana in the last 4 years and a new development was just approved for Main and Race including another restaurant and bar in downtown’s center.

  4. Thanks to Prussing’s excellent financial skills, the city maintained its commitment to more than $300,000 of funding for social service agencies, hired a statistician to help study racial disparity in traffic stops and is hiring two more police officers to address the sudden spike in violent crime.

  5. Urbana won Sierra Club’s “Cool Cities” award.

  6. Prussing led the city council in re-affirming Urbana as a Sanctuary City.

  7. Laurel Prussing doesn’t take money from developers who want the City to relax the development regulations that protect single family neighborhoods.

  8. When Carle Hospital sued Urbana, Prussing fought back to lower our property taxes and won at the appellate court.

  9. Republicans are voting in the Democratic primary. Shouldn’t you?

10. With Trump in the White House, we need to keep progressive Democratic leaders in local office.