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updated: 1/27/2012 2:20 PM

Libertyville voters to get facts on road repair referendum

Village puts info on website, plans eblasts to educate voters

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  • A driver passes through a well-patched intersection of West Rockland Road and Burdick Street in Libertyville. Voters soon will receive information on a village request to approve a tax increase to pay for road repairs.

       A driver passes through a well-patched intersection of West Rockland Road and Burdick Street in Libertyville. Voters soon will receive information on a village request to approve a tax increase to pay for road repairs.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

 
 

Politics has been heavy in the air of late but one issue that will directly affect voters in Libertyville hasn't received much attention outside of village hall.

That will change in coming weeks as village officials begin educating residents on details of a March 20 primary ballot question that could cost the owner of a $300,000 home an extra $136 per year in property taxes.

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The question posed on the ballot is straightforward: Voters will be asked whether the village should issue $20 million in bonds -- at an interest rate not to exceed 9 percent -- to fix village streets.

But there is a lot left unsaid in that question that village officials say is essential for voters to know.

"The best thing we can do for the residents is to give them as much information and the facts as to why we think this is the best alternative," said Trustee Donna Johnson, who chairs the village board's streets committee.

"We all realize referendums are a taboo and a painful subject but all of our roads are deteriorating ... we're trying to find the best alternatives we can."

Information regarding the road referendum and electric aggregation, the other question on the primary ballot in Libertyville and many other communities, has been posted on the village website, and email blasts will be sent every two weeks.

A village newsletter to be mailed in mid-February will contain details, and information also will be inserted in vehicle sticker notices to be sent in late February.

Two informal town hall meetings are planned so anyone with questions can learn more about the road issue and electric aggregation.

Getting potentially cheaper power isn't expected to be a hard sell.

"There isn't a downside to residents," said Mayor Terry Weppler. "If they don't want to participate, they can opt out." Resident approval of a tax increase to finance the principal and interest on bonds to fix 30 miles -- about one-third of village streets -- over four or five years beginning in 2013, will be another matter.

The village traditionally spends about $1 million a year on road repairs but has spent less the last two years, according to Public Works Director John Heinz.

The money comes from motor fuel tax collected by the state and distributed to communities (about $543,000 expected in the current fiscal year) and vehicle sticker sales and a telecommunication maintenance fee.

But it isn't enough to keep pace with the condition of the streets, according to the village. If approved by voters, four separate bond issues would provide an additional $4 million each year as a pre-emptive strike to repair streets on the decline rather than rebuild them later at a higher cost.

The village estimates the cost to resurface a road at about $650,000 per mile of pavement compared to about $1.85 million for a full reconstruction.

"While this is an option we need to pursue, we realize it's not easy for people," Johnson said. "It wasn't easy for us."

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