Road fix referendum to be considered in Libertyville
Voters in Libertyville could be asked on the March 20 ballot to allow the village to issue $25 million in bonds to catch up on a backlog of road repairs.
Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer
Voters in Libertyville may be asked to allow the village to issue $25 million in bonds to catch up on a backlog of road repairs that is expected to become much more costly without quick attention.
The village board's three-member streets committee Tuesday recommended a vote Dec. 13 by the full board to put that method of financing on the ballot.
Another option was to raise taxes in a pay-as-you-go scenario for street work. But that was rejected as money from that source could be used for other purposes, making it even harder to sell to voters.
Given the sentiments expressed during recent months, it appears likely the full village board would approve putting the question on the March 20 primary ballot. To do that, the village must notify the Lake County Clerk's office by Jan. 3.
If it goes to the ballot, voters would be asked whether the village should issue $25 million in bonds to fix roads.
But they can also expect a jump in the village property tax rate and a corresponding increase in property taxes. According to preliminary figures, the owner of a home with a market value of $300,000 would pay an additional $162 per year and those with a $400,000 home would pay about $217 more.
Nearly three quarters of village-maintained streets are regarded as being in below average condition. Village staff had estimated it would take $32 million to reach an average rating for most streets.
The village spends about $1 million a year on road work, which comes from vehicle sticker fees and motor fuel tax revenue. A successful bond issue would add $4 million to that amount each year through 2018.
The intent is to catch up on existing work and repair other streets in the next five to seven years before they deteriorate to the point of needing much more expensive reconstruction.
"If we don't get the funds to address the roads ... then we're dealing with a much bigger issue," said Trustee Donna Johnson, who chairs the streets committee.
Mayor Terry Weppler, who announced his intent in a recent village newsletter to put a road work funding question on the ballot, said the village has an obligation to maintain the roads.
"I don't know how else we can do it," he said. "I don't disagree it's not going to be easy selling a $25 million referendum in this economy."
As envisioned, the bonds would be spent within six years, leaving about 14 years of debt to pay.
Weppler said he wanted to know how many miles of streets will be fixed.
"We're all going to get questions about, `What's $25 million going to do?' he said. "I want that answer before I'm asked."
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