For many communities, tough economic times can mean a rough road ahead.
For Mount Prospect, this literally could be true, as officials learned Tuesday that the sluggish economy has caused the village to lag far behind on maintaining its streets.
The village board kicked off its annual budget process Tuesday by examining each village department's capital improvement plan for the next five years.
During the public works presentation, Public Works Director Sean Dorsey said the village is 10.7 miles behind on its street resurfacing schedule, the equivalent of 1.5 program years. The $2.3 million requested for the Street Resurfacing Program in 2013 would address approximately 4.5 miles, he said, well behind the goal of resurfacing about 6.8 miles each year.
"The ultimate impact of our falling behind is that at some point we will unavoidably encounter the need to reconstruct streets instead of resurfacing them," Dorsey said. adding that reconstruction comes at a much higher price than resurfacing.
Public Works is requesting $11 million in all next year, which includes $328,000 to install streetscape improvements along Northwest Highway between Maple and School streets. The improvements would include the installation of brick sidewalk, streetlights, planter beds and furniture.
Trustee Michael Zadel expressed concern about the backlog in street resurfacing and wondered whether it might be worth considering deferring some of the streetscape improvements and redirect that funding to resurfacing.
"I would hate to see us get into a situation where we would have to start reconstructing again, because those costs are only going to go up as time goes by," he said.
Trustees also discussed the costs associated with removing ash trees infested by the emerald ash borer. Public Works is requesting $168,000 in 2013 for the removal of approximately 522 ash trees, about 20 percent of the remaining ash tree population, and another $83,000 to plant 522 replacement trees.
To date, 703 ash trees have been removed, and there are 2,700 remaining ash trees on village land.
Dorsey said the village has been treating 800 trees that were identified before infestation on a preventive basis. To date, they are all doing well, he said.
As far as private treatment by citizens, Dorsey said the response has been relatively small.
"I'm just surprised that more people haven't come forward to go ahead to try to save their ash trees," said Trustee A. John Korn.