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posted: 4/25/2013 2:41 PM

Mt. Prospect considers loan fund for homeowner sewers

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  • Mark Mesa, left, and Jorge Avina, carry out carpet from Mesa's brother's basement in Mount Prospect after heavy rains left six inches of water in the basement in 2011. Mount Prospect is considering a program to help homeowners prevent sewer backups.

      Mark Mesa, left, and Jorge Avina, carry out carpet from Mesa's brother's basement in Mount Prospect after heavy rains left six inches of water in the basement in 2011. Mount Prospect is considering a program to help homeowners prevent sewer backups.
    Daily Herald Photo/July 2011

 

In the wake of powerful 2011 storms that flooded dozens of Mount Prospect homes, the village devoted a portion of its quarter-cent home rule sales tax to fund public improvements to sanitary and storm sewers.

But the elephant in the room remains the question of how to address the private needs of homeowners whose basements flood.

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On Tuesday, the village board's committee of the whole discussed a recommendation of its finance commission to create a revolving fund to provide loans to homeowners who install overhead sewers. Trustees had a lukewarm reaction to the proposal.

An overhead sewer prevents sanitary sewer back up into a home but does not prevent surface flooding such as through window wells. Overhead sewer lines exit at about the top of a basement or lower level.

What the commission has proposed is a 50 percent homeowner buy in, 50 percent loan from the village. There would be no set repayment schedule for the loan.

Initial funding for the revolving fund of $320,000 would come from an increase in the sewer construction fee on the water bill to $7 from $5 per month. Eventually, the fund would be supplemented by homeowners paying back loans.

The loans would be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. A lien would be attached to the property, and the loans would come due upon the sale of the home or would be paid earlier at the homeowner's discretion.

"It is a loan that is paid back," Finance Director David Erb said. "It is no giveaway."

"Everybody that pays that construction fee is contributing to the loan, whether you use it or not," Village Manager Michael Janonis said.

When Trustee A. John Korn asked if the village was going to suggest a time frame for payback, Erb said interest could be charged, and that would motivate homeowners to pay the loan off earlier.

"A two dollar fee seems fairly nominal," said Trustee Arlene Juracek, but she noted that there was push-back from the public when the same proposal was suggested previously.

Trustee Michael Zadel said he would rather see the matter go to the citizens first, possibly in the form of a referendum, to get some idea of what the general public thinks.

Mayor Irvana Wilks said the decision on whether to pursue the proposal has to be weighed carefully.

"I hear a lot of complaints about the construction fee that's on the water bill."

In Arlington Heights, the village will match the cost of installing an overhead sewer up to $7,500 with no repayment requirement.

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