Voters in Libertyville will be asked whether they want to pay higher taxes to fix village roads.
Mayor Terry Weppler on the front page of the most recent village newsletter said he intends to put a question on the ballot in March asking if voters favor the village raising funds through a bond issue to address long-delayed roadwork.
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"Everybody agrees our streets aren't in great shape but we don't have the money to do that right now," he said Thursday.
According to Weppler, nearly three quarters of village-maintained streets have been determined to be below average in terms of wear and in need of some type of attention. Staff had estimated it would take at least $32 million to get an "average pavement rating" for most streets.
How much in bonds the village will ask for is to be determined based on staff research regarding the range of work desired and bonding options.
"We need to get that information to educate our residents," Weppler said. "We don't have enough information now to know what we'll put on the ballot."
Based on the value of property in the village, Libertyville has an overall debt limit of about $105 million. Its current outstanding debt is about $27 million.
The question has to go to voters because the village doesn't have a dedicated source of revenue to pay the principal and interest on the bonds, and can't simply issue them without voter approval.
"We would have to levy additional taxes to pay for this bond," said Finance Director Pat Wesolowski.
Some basic pothole filling and patching was scheduled for this season but most of the village budget for street repairs involved a single project -- the reconstruction of about a half-mile of Dymond Road between Route 176 and Crane Boulevard.
Weppler says the nearly $1 million cost of that project puts the villagewide need for other work in perspective.
"How do we get the money?" he asked in the newsletter.
A bond issue was mentioned as a possibility early this year. Weppler now intends to ask voters to advise the village board whether they would support a bond issue to fix village roads.
Village leaders in late August literally took to the streets in a van for a firsthand look at road conditions in several locations throughout Libertyville.
The stops varied from stretches on East Sunnyside Avenue, where village crews had bought some time with patching rather than have the edges crumble, to the Canterbury subdivision where the original pavement is near the end of its useful life and will need significant work.
A report presented to the village board's streets committee last November, showed the village in late 1998 sold $3.7 million in bonds to catch up on street repairs. Once the bond proceeds were spent, funding for pavement repair was reduced. The road budget has been reduced the past two years, said Public Works Director John Heinz.
"There's a lot that needs to be done out there and it's a big number," he said. "If we don't start to chip away at it, we'll never catch up."
Weppler said the economy has played a big role in road deterioration. With less revenue, road maintenance was deferred to help balance the budget.