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updated: 10/3/2011 10:53 AM

Voters need clear picture on road fix, Libertyville officials say

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  • Most of Libertyville's budget for street repairs this year involved a single project -- the reconstruction of about a half-mile of Dymond Road between Route 176 and Crane Boulevard.

       Most of Libertyville's budget for street repairs this year involved a single project -- the reconstruction of about a half-mile of Dymond Road between Route 176 and Crane Boulevard.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer


Should village officials decide to ask for money to fund road repairs, voters need to have a clear picture of what is being asked of them, Libertyville officials say.

An official decision has not been made, but it appears village leaders want to proceed with a question on the March 20 primary election ballot for authority to issue bonds for road work.

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"We're in the investigation stage. What amount can we bond? What should we bond? What streets should be done?" Mayor Terry Weppler said.

He estimated that $32 million would be needed to improve streets to an average rating.

Funding for village road work comes primarily from motor fuel tax collected by the state and the village's capital improvement fund, which gets revenue from vehicle stickers and a portion of the telecommunication tax. Over the last 22 years, Libertyville has spent an average of $956,000 on local roads.

But because of budget issues, the village has been falling behind on road repairs. In a message to residents in the most recent village newsletter, Weppler said nearly three-quarters of village streets are considered below average and need to be fixed.

Asking voters to approve a bond issue has been on the radar for about a year, but officials now are getting into the nitty-gritty of how much is needed and what work would be done.

Voter approval is needed because there is no guaranteed revenue source for the bonds.

How that might work was discussed recently by the village board's streets committee.

"We're going to need a plan. People will say, `What are you going to do with this?'" noted Village Administrator Kevin Bowens.

Preliminary information provided to the committee shows owners of a $300,000 home would pay about $33 more a year in property taxes for a 20-year, $5 million bond issue.

The same property owner would pay about $65 a year more for a $10 million bond issue of the same duration.

Many details need to be determined, such as which streets would best benefit from a "shave and pave" resurfacing. Waiting too long could require reconstruction, which is about four times as expensive.

How much additional work should be done each year if a bond issue passed and how much added work village staff could handle with an expanded road program are other variables. As envisioned, any bond funds would be used for projects separate from the annual program.

In any case, the referendum question would have to be crafted so it is "clear to people what they're voting on and what they're approving," according to Trustee Donna Johnson, who chairs the committee. "We've got to create realistic expectations. You've got to be real with people -- they'll have an expectation of, `Me first,'".

Jan. 3 is the last day for local governing boards to adopt a resolution or ordinance to allow a binding public question to appear on the ballot.

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