The primary mission of the Association is to provide a means by which geographically related municipalities in the area south of Chicago could cooperate to explore and recommend solutions to common municipal problems; to develop, administer and/or foster intergovernmental programs on a voluntary basis; to develop a common voice on municipal positions in the southern suburbs and to communicate these positions as a single voice to the legislative, executive and judicial branches of state and federal government, as well as applicable private organizations; to cooperate with other municipalities, municipal groups and intergovernmental organizations in the Chicago area, the State of Illinois and the United States toward solutions to municipal problems; to provide general governmental assistance to member municipalities; and to improve the economic climate and quality-of-life in the southern suburbs by working with sub-regional and metropolitan wide organizations.
One of the most difficult issues challenging our communities today is the mortgage foreclosure issue. The southern suburbs of Chicago have been dramatically impacted by predatory sub-prime lending practices and the resulting wide spread mortgage foreclosures. Southern Cook County has the highest rate of foreclosure in the State of Illinois. Many of our communities lack the resources needed to address even items such as maintenance or code enforcement on these often vacant or abandoned homes.
As a result, the Association has acted in accordance with the mission and sought to develop a collaborative approach to the issue. With the assistance of metropolitan-wide organizations including the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, we have developed a comprehensive approach to plan and apply for Neighborhood Stabilization Funding from the State of Illinois and the County of Cook.
Our success depends upon resources being made available to strategically implement the plans we have developed to use NSP funding to further existing land use and other planning activities. We envision the use of NSP funds to assist communities involved in the initial steps to foster transit oriented development along both existing and planned commuter rail lines. The Calumet River Corridor Project is another existing economic development initiative that will be moved along with the NSP funding. Both of these projects take advantage of the effort to mitigate the mortgage catastrophe by seeking to use the funds in a manner that creates greater opportunities to launch economic and environmental sustainability in communities throughout the southern suburbs of Chicago. These project’s use of NSP funds will further the Association’s goal of regional collaboration to promote economic development and restoration of devastated neighborhoods. An added benefit of the SSMMA approach to this effort is that public and elected officials will learn from best practices and will gain knowledge of how to initiate and participate effectively in redevelopment projects using NSP funds.
SSMMA’s project will demonstrate the benefit of intergovernmental cooperation, strategic planning and thoughtful targeting of limited dollars to create the desired effect.
The Association is well equipped to foster this collaborative effort. Our communities often advantage themselves from our “Suburban Purchasing Cooperative” which provides economy of scale through the combined purchasing power of the participating members, resulting in lower prices for everyone.
Additionally, the Association is experienced in achieving a cooperative spirit among the many member communities. SSMMA has created a South Suburban Brownfield Coalition, created to obtain $200,000 USEPA assessment grants for 5 communities.
Other examples of intergovernmental cooperation and the development of collaborative efforts to foster strategic planning include the following:
South Suburban Tax Reactivation Project – Worked with the Cook County Assessor and DCEO to acquire tax delinquent properties, clean them up and deed them to municipalities.
Public Works Mutual Aid Agreement – Agreement with other Councils of Government that addresses issues of command and control, liability, equipment sharing and manpower.
South Suburban Bond Bank – A $50 million variable rate bond program available to Association members.
Telecommunications Planning – The Association obtained $150,000 in funding to examine the current status of telecommunications infrastructure in the Southland, as well as business and municipal needs.
Employee Assistance Program – Employees and their immediate family can receive up to eight counseling sessions at no cost to the employee to deal with a variety of personal issues.
The municipal interest in housing has not been overlooked previously. The Association is addressing, on an intergovernmental basis, issues related to:
Section 8 Program – South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association works with its sister agency Diversity, Inc. to assist communities in dealing with Cook County and HUD to address concentrations of subsidized housing which fosters concentrated poverty and decreased economic opportunities for assisted households.
Community Vitality Program – A program designed to assist communities in promoting and maintaining diversity.
Housing Court Program – Assisted communities in establishing local housing courts, as well as comprehensive building and property maintenance codes and aggressive enforcement programs to maintain property appearance and values.
Housing Rehabilitation Program – South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association receives Cook County Community Development Block Grant Funds to conduct a multi-municipal single-family housing rehabilitation program.
In the area of transportation and infrastructure there are further examples, including:
South Suburban Bikeway Planning.
Solid Waste and Recycling Programs.
Surface Transportation Program comprised of highway and other transportation improvement projects within the 35 member municipalities in the South Council.
South Suburban Stormwater Strategy – The Association applied for and received state funds to produce a strategy to reduce flooding through cooperative watershed management.
Calumet Open Space Initiative – SSMMA has partnered with Open Lands Project and received a $125,000 Illinois Clean Energy Foundation Grant to develop a regional open space plan and opportunities.
Public Works Advisory Committee – An SSMMA Committee that provides technical assistance and training for all aspects related to management, planning and education of Public Works Departments and employees.
Economic development in south Cook County has been enhanced through the Association’s efforts as follows:
Chicago Southland Economic Development Corporation – This organization provides a means to coordinate economic development activities in the Southland region.
SSMMA Industrial Revenue Bond Pool Program – Working with the Illinois Development Finance Authority, selects eligible projects to use the volume cap.
The South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association’s tradition of cooperative planning and collaborative execution of programs and projects provides an assurance that any intergovernmental effort will be positioned for success and administered professionally and fairly.
Located south of the City of Chicago, the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association (SSMMA) is an intergovernmental agency providing technical assistance and joint services to 45 municipalities representing a population of nearly 700,000 in Cook and Will Counties. See a map here. SSMMA members work cooperatively on transportation, legislation, land use, economic development, recycling, purchasing, stormwater and open space planning, infrastructure, human resources, public safety and housing issues. Download SSMMA’s brochure here.