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updated: 6/1/2011 4:07 PM

Libertyville to consider steet fixes

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Complaints about the condition of neighborhood streets in Libertyville are heard occasionally, but it's not every day a resident brings in a hunk of asphalt for village officials to ponder.

That souvenir from Thornbury Lane on the village's far east side has prompted Mayor Terry Weppler to request a road trip, and in a few weeks, village leaders are expected to pile into a van for a firsthand look at local roads.

Touring the streets will be the easy part, however. Village staff estimates it would cost about $32 million to bring every village street that needs it up to snuff, through reconstruction or resurfacing.

"Our staff keeps telling us this needs to be done, and it's been deferred for years. At the very least, we have to start working on that list," Weppler said.

Weppler says he would like village trustees to see the worst streets before deciding how urgent the need is and how the village might deal with it, given that money is tight.

A specific decision is a ways off, but one possibility may be to ask voters to approve a referendum to raise funds to make a dent in the what needs to be done.

"I've had calls from residents all over town saying, 'I don't mind paying a little more but our streets need fixing,'" Weppler said during a recent meeting of the village board's streets committee. "We need to finally do something and say, 'Here are our options and here's how we're going to do it.'"

Public Works Director John Heinz said the village in the past had allocated about $1.2 million or more each year for street repairs, but has spent only about half that amount the past two years.

"We had to shave that in half because of budget issues," he said.

Money had been set aside to rebuild about a half mile of Dymond Road between Route 176 and Crane Boulevard. That work, which is getting under way, accounts for most of this year's current road repair budget.

"Our whole budget is going to potholes," according to Weppler.

Funding for street work comes from motor fuel tax and capital improvement funds.

"It's a struggle to find funding," Heinz said.

The question is are there other sources to be mined or will the status quo have to continue.

One possibility is asking voters to allow the village to issue bonds targeted for road repairs. That's tricky because the village needs to have a reliable source of income to pay that debt.

"We used to have traditional sources," said village Trustee Donna Johnson, who chairs the streets committee. "The traditional sources of revenue have dried up."